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back to article Optical Express 'ruined my life' gripe site lives on

A gripe site for people who claim high street opticians Optical Express “ruined” their eyesight with botched LASIK surgery has been allowed to remain online, after a cybersquatting panel ruled that the owner has the right to free speech. Nominet Dispute Resolution Service panelist Keith Gymer earlier this month ruled that the …

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Meh

A sensible ruling

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Alert

Quite a shock really.

It may mean that these 'people' are actually starting to think about the cases coming before them rather than just tossing a coin.

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Boffin

And to think I was 50:50 about the surgery. Until now.

<-- Looks like I'll be sticking with these for a while yet.

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Boffin

Well all surgery comes with risks, even elective surgery like this one.

But yes, I wouldn't be giving it a go, particularly as a friend of mine was refused the surgery due to only having one eye - they apparently considered the risk to the remaining eye as too high. I'd be suspicious of anyone who thinks having two eyes is a contingency plan. I use extended-wear contact lenses which more than suit my needs.

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Flame

Optical Express = Bunch of Cowboys

Yes but I still wouldn't choose Optical Express.

They managed to get my wife's prescription completely wrong even after 3 attempts of them to get it right.

She was left with glasses that made her walk into walls.

Went to Vision Express and got a new prescription completely different ( no astigmatism) and she now has a pair of glasses she can use.

Tried to get my money back from OE. they will fix them (how if they get the prescription wrong and have had 3 goes) but no chance.

AVOID them like the plague

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Boffin

Don't consider ANY elective surgery until they can point at a statistically valid number of guinea-pigs, sorry people, who have lived to a ripe old age with no undesirable side-effects. The medical history books are full of treatments that looked like a good idea at the time, but proved to be a long-term disaster.

I won't even consider contact lenses. It'll be another couple of decades before there are ninety-year-olds who were wearing them since their twenties. Does vanity or slight convenience justify even the slightest increased risk of losing your sight in your old age?

(It is of course different if the surgery is to address a life-threatening or seriously life-limiting problem.)

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Anonymous Coward

I used to have extended-wear contacts - they were great, until my eyes started rejecting them... After that, no contacts would settle :(

There is also an infection risk with contacts every time you put them in or take them out (massively reduced with extended wear - so stick with them as long as you can!)... But people tend to gloss over that when poo-pooing surgery.

The benefits dwarfed the risks for me, I went to a respected eye hospital to have mine done rather than a high street chain. All risks were made clear, expectations were set (I was -9 with astigmatism).

Only thing I found was the "discomfort" when making the flap was a bit more than "discomfort" to me - rest of the procedure was fine.

In terms of the risks, you're not going to have a laser blasting a hole through your skull - risks occur around healing, so if you don't use your various eye drops for the couple of weeks after surgery, your eye may respond by trying to fix the removed cells, resulting in scar tissue forming - you could then end up with blurry vision, or having to have more surgery.

As my correction was quite massive, I was fully prepared for the night vision problems (halo's / starbursts etc) - it's quite annoying, but not really any different to when I was wearing glasses at night.

All in all, it was certainly worth it for me.

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Anonymous Coward

@Nigel 11

I take it you've never taken Ibuprofen, Cetirizine (Zertek/Benadryl), etc? Just suffered the pain and had a runny nose?

They're chemicals, surelly a far potential long term risk than removing some un-neccessary cells (OK, thats over simplified, but still...).

They are also far more recent than Radial Keratotomy. The fact a laser is used for the cutting now rather than a blade isn't really a factor in the long term results.

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Go get it done by 'proper' surgeons then

Lets not forget that the best surgeons (of any discipline) in the UK tend to work for the NHS in one form or another. So, why not go get it done by them?

See http://www.cmft.nhs.uk/royal-eye/our-services/laser-vision-correction.aspx for example. This eye hospital is one of the biggest in Europe and is one of the leading research centres in the world and is more than happy to take your money at rather competitive rates.

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Boffin

Re: @Nigel 11

The effects of drugs taken for a short time are almost certainly reversible, even if your body reacts badly. The adverse effects of long-term use of Ibuprofen are well-known, starting with increased risk of heart attacks (read the leaflet in the packet). It's a long-term effect, caused by the drug interfering with your body's self-repair mechanisms. Short-term (for a few days), it's a negligible risk.

Surgery is almost by definition irreversible. Contact lenses are equivalent to long-term drug usage, and I would also counsel avoiding elective use of a drug therapy for the rest of one's life if the treated condition isn't life-threatening or seriously debilitating.

I have in fact made that choice with respect to life-long use of anti-gout medication (no thanks). I prefer to put up with a few hours of extreme pain in my big toe maybe once a year, and treat that with diclofenac (a more powerful version of ibuprofen) for about a week when it happens. Someone suffering from gout more severely would doubtless choose otherwise, as I will if the attacks become frequent, or develop into chronic gouty arthritis, or spread to my major joints.

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Anonymous Coward

I saw it done on TV and noticed they were using Windows software to track eye movement to adjust the laser position.

Give me a Russian guy with a scalpel any day.

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K
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Re: Optical Express = Bunch of Cowboys

Similar story here - I went for a contact lens fitting and the guy tried talking me into Laser surgery, which I seriously considered. Fortunately he fitted me with incorrect contact lenses at least 3-4 times, so I learnt very quickly to avoid them like the plague..

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @Nigel 11

I've not taken that cr4p. Just suffered the pain of a hot meal, fresh garlic, some exercise, and a good sleep. Medicine is for whimps. HHOS.

In case you are wondering, there is a reason for that runny nose or fever. If you stop it, you also keep in whatever your body is trying rid itself of. It's better to be healthy than get rid of symptoms. That's like painting over rust.

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Happy

Re: Optical Express = Bunch of Cowboys

"She was left with glasses that made her walk into walls"

My wife has those glasses too - they're called glasses of wine.

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They do tend to be a bit economical with the truth where the risks of LASIK are concerned.

I used to be an Optical Express customer, but only because a previous employer's company heathcare plan insisted I use them and only them. I wasn't with them very long before changing to another 'unapproved' optician because they keep pestering me to have laser surgery.

It was a damn good job I did. I had to have eye surgery several years later and learned that I would have lost my eyesight entirely had I agreed to LASIK treatment.

And yes, This was something Optical Express' opticians should have spotted.

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It worked for me.

Blind as bat past 2 foot before, perfect (20 12) eyesight after.

Many of their employees have had LASIK, go in and talk to them, it's free and you can always say no......

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MrT
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Re: "having two eyes is a contingency plan..."

... worked for the RAF V-Force whilst they still carried nuclear weapons. Two pilots, four eyes (eye patch worn, co-pilot kept anti-flash cockpit screens closed until required) meant they could fly through the flashes of up to three nuclear explosions and still see the target.

I agree that the surgeons ought not just be relying on 'having a spare' in case a surgical procedure goes titsup... the blurb about laser eye surgery tends towards describing it a routine, completely repeatable and highly controlled.

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Annihilator: "they apparently considered the risk to the remaining eye as too high"

... and they strongly disparaged my idea of having my eyes done separately, one year apart. Those two positions seem internally contradictory to me.

Upvote for extended wear lenses - get a good fit and high quality lenses and you can wear them for a month.

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Re: @Nigel 11

We all believe in healthy active living, and I totally agree that your natural remedies may well be good for colds - for which there is no effective medication. But your rejection of all conventional medicine as 'for whimps' makes your argument worthless. Sorry.

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Anonymous Coward

@Aria

No idea why people would down vote you for saying "It worked for me". Who wants a balanced opinion eh!

Clearly you're lying and are using a brail keyboard and screen reader in their minds.

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Streisand effect?

Looks like their epetition just got some free publicity.

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Joke

Re: Streisand effect?

"Looks like their epetition just got some free publicity"

You spell it "optician". Unless you're south african, in which case your phonetic spelling of "epetition" may be correct. ;-)

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Trollface

Re: Streisand effect?

If "epetition" is spelt "optician", how is "email" spelt?

Anyway, I thought an "optician" was someone that botched Lasic? What does that have to do with petitions done electronically?

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Megaphone

Most opticians

Wear glasses or contact lenses. A few have good eyesight. I don't know any who've had surgery.

Married to one, since you ask!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Most opticians

Some people find that it worsens their night vision, probably due to slight scarring on the lens which lets less light into the eye?

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JDX
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Re: Most opticians

The guy who consulted for me had had it done.

However I imagine the fact it costs quite a lot is a big factor :)

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Boffin

Re: LASIK night-vision loss

Night vision loss - I'd guess that what people notice is increased scattering of bright light, such as oncoming headlights, by the scar tissue. Light scattered into the dark parts of your visual field means that the subtle gradations of dark are washed out by the "noise".

Everyone's dark vision deteriorates with age, but an optician may point out that you have a "pre-cataract". That's clouding of the natural lens in the eye, which will lead to a cataract but which at present is only hurting one's night-driving vision. Hard question: give up night driving, or pay for and risk a cataract operation a decade before the cataract will be causing everyday vision problems?

I also wonder whether some people who try LASIK to correct severe lens defects which spectacles can't properly address, might be better treated with a full cataract operation to replace the faulty natural lens in their eye? The cataract lens-implant operation has an extremely high success rate and leaves one with vision that's in some ways more perfect than nature. I guess the risk of losing the eye altogether is higher for cataract surgery, though the risk of being left with vision that's worse after the procedure than before is surely higher with LASIK. And one does have two eyes .... But there again, eye lens implants haven't yet been tested for a full lifetime. People who have lens implants are usually elderly, for whom a lifetime is unlikely to exceed 20 years (and the implants have now been well-tested over that timescale).

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JDX
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Re: LASIK night-vision loss

More modern lasers are better and apparently this is now not the common side-effect it was in the early days. Halos and so on are widely discussed, but the treatment I had (Ultralase's top one) specifically is supposed to avoid this due to additional accuracies in the laser.

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Re: LASIK night-vision loss

"I guess the risk of losing the eye altogether is higher for cataract surgery"

These days, cataract surgery is a simple out-patient procedure which takes around twenty minutes unless the lens breaks up during removal. It takes a few minutes longer when that happens.

The only real danger is the usual post operative infection risk and that can be managed.

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Site...

...doesn't seem to be awash with blinded punters. Six people with problems from what I can see. I also read the petition, and while I don't have a particular problem with its content, it seems like they're only trying to formalise what a good clinic does anyway. I had LASIK surgery 7-8 years ago and it was a major improvement in my life. Of course my eyeballs may fall out any day now, but until then I'm a fan of the process.

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Re: Site...

Seconded - 5 years for me and life changing.

"Normal" sighted people don't realise how much of an improvement 20% of your peripheral vision is!

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Re: Site...

Normal people don't get how bad your eyes can be. I always hate when they ask "Well how do you see things?" Since far as i'm concerned, I see normaly.

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JDX
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So basically the site acts as an advert how few people have such problems!

Though I suppose if you were blind you'd probably struggle to use the site.

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Re: Site...

Having worn extended wear lenses since I was 20, and getting dry and weary eyes every evening at 50, I decided to treat myself to a Femto-Laser procedure. They use the ultra fast laser to model a flap from the surface of the cornea instead of using a miniature dermatome to cut a flap. Then the standard laser is used to model the exposed surface of the cornea (based on maps made of the visual characteristics of the whole visual path - which also removes any astigmatism). Then the hinged flap is folded back over the freshly lasered cornea. One night with a protective lens and presto, could read the license plates from the 2nd story office. I was -6 diopter.

6 years on and I see perfectly at any distance and don't even need my reading glasses any more for the newspaper in the morning, can even read the fine print on the packaging in the shops. No issues w. night driving, better than w. glasses of contact lenses, no flares, sparkles or halos.

My only regret is that this wasn't available back in the 70/80s - when it would have given me 30 extra years of visual and living quality.

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Boffin

The Register contacted Optical Express for comment, but it has yet to respond.

They couldn't read the email due to botched laser eye treatment (allegedly). I've booked a shark to do mine...

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It would be good if they would stop sending spam text messages too.

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Coat

Should have gone to Specsavers.

I'm going, I'm going...

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Facepalm

Pioneered in the USSR

I remember a photo in National Geographic, showing the Moscow theatre this was conducted in, with a carousel of beds so that patients could be treated en masse. Obviously there wasn't the risk of infection (non contact) as with traditional forms of surgery.

I read of the exploits of a mountaineer who had had the treatment, and he only had issues when at some silly altitude on Everest... something about extreme cold temperatures or low air pressure can cause temporary problems. Obviously his treatment hadn't been botched.

(icon: "Ow, my eye, my beautiful eye")

The ruling seems correct- there is no way that you would confuse opticalexpressruinedmylife for the company's own website. (Unless your eyes had been messed up)

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mtw

Re: Pioneered in the USSR

I believe that was mass cataract removal, which was done on a conveyor belt basis. They hadn't got as far as laser surgery when those pics came out (maybe still haven't).

Icon: would have been an oar, if there was one, for sticking mine in :)

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Re: Pioneered in the USSR

@mtw

The Russians were pioneers of Radial Keratotomy, a precursor to laser treatment, whereby a series of spoke-like incisions were made around the iris.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Pioneered in the USSR

Speaking of cataracts, I hear that they used to use donated cataracts, but now they use artificial ones... the upshot is that the surgeons might as use an artificial cataract that also corrects short/long sight whilst they are at it. Bonus.

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Boffin

Re: Pioneered in the USSR

@AC I think you're mixing up cataracts and corneas, there's an important difference...!

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Well done that Judge!

If this had been allowed it would have let big companies silence people who had been the vicitims of alleged bad practice and effectively sweep such problems under the carpet.

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DJO
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Please zap my retina with a laser!

When surgeons and opticians themselves have Lasik I'll consider it, until then - not a <insert expletive of choice> chance.

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Boffin

Re: Please zap my retina with a laser!

Yes, please! A torn retina, if not tacked down by laser or cryotherapy is a one-way ticket to blindness. (N.B.: None of the above discussion mentioned retinas.)

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I'd like to have it done

but I just can't get past the stage where they go 'right, so we'll just slice the front of your eyeball off WHILST YOU ARE TOTALLY AWAKE'. Can they not condense this treatment into a pill or something? It'd be a lot more popular.

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Facepalm

Re: I'd like to have it done

Same here. My step-mother had it done, but just the concept of the practice makes me retch with horror.

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Re: I'd like to have it done

Seconded!

** heebee jeebies **

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I would love to have LASIK

However, my uncle is an eye surgeon, who spends his time trying to restore eyesight to people who've gone through windscreens, people who have knifes jammed in their eyes, and, yes, people who have botched LASIK surgery. He won't touch your eyes unless there is already something wrong with them, since fixing problems with your eyes is damned hard.

Yes, 97% of people who have LASIK are quite happy with it, and yes, LASIK has been around a long time now. Would you take a 3% chance that your eyesight won't be ruined?

I'm also shocked at some of the reports on that website - OE treated both eyes at the same time! WTFery! If something goes wrong, like it did in his case, at least you would still have one un-fucked eye.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I would love to have LASIK

"Would you take a 3% chance that your eyesight won't be ruined?" Bit of a skewed statistic that... Seen it knocked around before.

3% don't reach driving standard eye sight without assistance (need much weaker glasses / contacts than they had before) / have unrealistically high expectations != ruined.

I wouldn't touch OE with a bargepole, but I also wouldn't band ALL corrective surgery practices in one chunk.

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