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Delay in Diagnosis of Eye Infections

January 23, 2018

Continuing our theme this month, our final article deals with eye infections, which can be caused by bacteria, fungus or viruses.  Any delay in treating an eye infection can have serious consequences and can lead to a reduction or loss of eyesight.  Contact lens wearers in particular have to be very careful about eye care because they are already introducing a foreign object into the eye and it is important that these are cleaned and disinfected thoroughly each time before use.

Types of infection can include:-

Conjunctivitis (or pink eye) – highly contagious and viral or bacterial Ocular Herpes – viral, from the Herpes Simplex Virus Fungal Keratitis – fungal infection of the cornea Acanthamoeba keratitis – rare disease caused by parasites invading the eye Endophthalmitis – an inflammation of the interior of the eye.  Can occur following a penetrating eye injury or as a rare complication of eye surgery, such as cataract surgery

Some infections, such as viral conjunctivitis, will get better on their own.   Other infections may need anti-viral treatment or strong antibiotics to aid recovery.  Prompt and correct treatment is important to prevent serious complications occurring and therefore an accurate and early diagnosis by your optometrist or ophthalmologist is necessary.

One complication of infections can be uveitis, which is an inflammation of the middle layer of the eye and this can go on to lead to glaucoma or cataracts.   Another complication could be corneal ulcers, which resemble an abscess on the eye.  In one case a patient presented to an ophthalmologist with an eye infection which was later found to be caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (ocular herpes).   Unfortunately, he was initially mis-diagnosed and therefore was not given the correct treatment.    As a result of the delay in getting the right treatment he developed a corneal ulcer.  The ulcer led to scarring on the eye and now this patient has a severe loss of vision in that eye which is permanent.

Examples of awards made in cases where a delay has occurred are:-

The claimant, a 53-year-old man, received a £2,000,000 lump sum for the loss of vision sustained due to a delay in referring him to an ophthalmologist for treatment in February 2002. His vision was of no functional use and he was registered blind.

The claimant, a 44-year-old man, received £19,500 for a delay in diagnosing and treating scleritis in 2003. He suffered from a permanent overall deterioration in vision of approximately 15 to 20 per cent.

At Metcalfes we have a team of highly skilled medical negligence lawyers who have a vast experience of dealing with all types of cases involving the eye.   If you or a loved one have suffered a delay in diagnosis or treatment of an infection, glaucoma, or detached retinas, or have undergone negligently performed surgery then we can help.  We will guide you through the claims process and will deal with your claim in a sympathetic and understanding manner. 

If you, or someone you know has been affected, contact us on 0117 239 8012 or use our online form, and we can advise whether you have a potential claim.

For further reading visit:-

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Herpes-simplex-eye-infections/

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/uveitis/

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/red-eye/

Website content note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

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Delay in Diagnosis of Eye Infections

Gillian Clark

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