Optician admits negligence in examination of boy who became blind

By Gary Adair

A high street optician has admitted negligence after carrying out two eye examinations on a two year old child and failing to detect optic atrophy.

The boy's mother had been advised by her health visitor and GP to take her child to an optician, as she was concerned about a squint he had developed in his eye and his inability to see the television. The optician used an auto-refractor instead of retinoscopy under cyclopegia, and subjective testing for the visual fields instead of objective testing. He concluded that the boy's inability to respond was due to a lack of cooperation and asked the mother to bring him back when her was older and could cooperate more. The optician took no action in relation to the squint and made a diagnosis of healthy eyesight.

The boy was examined by the optician again five months later, and was again given a diagnosis of healthy eyesight. The mother insisted on being referred back to the GP, who referred him on to a hospital ophthalmologist who immediately detected optic atrophy. An MRI scan was carried out and a benign brain tumour was detected, with one of the cysts of the tumour pressing on the optic nerve and causing almost complete loss of vision. The severity of the condition at that point suggested that the signs of optic atrophy would have been present at the time of the optician's examination.

The boy is now registered blind, as too much damage had been done by the time the cyst was drained to take pressure off the optic nerve. A medical negligence claim was brought against the optician who has since admitted failing to conduct an adequate eye examination of the two year old boy, resulting in a five to six month delay in treatment. Judgment has been entered and the compensation award is being calculated.

If you require legal advice from a medical negligence solicitor in Northern Ireland contact Wilson Nesbitt in Belfast by clicking here.