Vision loss in one or both eyes can be devastating and not only affect your daily life, but your ability to earn a living and care for yourself. When vision loss is caused by a preventable medical condition – such as a disease in the eye or artery blockage that could have been treated earlier – and this preventable medical condition is missed you may have a medical malpractice case.
One of the primary doctors you will treat with for vision issues is an optometrist. Optometrists take care of primary health care for the eye. After college, they spend 4 years in a professional program and get a doctor of optometry degree. The program curriculum includes: basic and advanced eye examination techniques; client case history and case studies; additional courses in the natural sciences (including optics) and pharmacology. Optometry program coursework also includes full-time clinical training as a resident during the final 1 to 2 years of the program. Some optometrists may go on to get additional specialized degrees.
When would you have a medical malpractice claim against an optometrist for loss of vision?
This may occur when you complain of signs and symptoms that are a precursor to impending loss of vision in one or both eyes. An example could be complaints of occasional vision loss in your eye which may be a sign of a more serious condition such as a blocked carotid artery or other diseases of the eye. In such cases the optometrist may have a responsibility to refer you to an ophthalmologist or neurologist to examine you further and treat whatever condition is causing your occasional vision loss. A failure to take these symptoms seriously and not referring you to another specialist for further treatment could be malpractice if you lose your vision as a result.
Beyond negligence you will also have to prove causation. This means you will have to show that if your eye condition was diagnosed and treated sooner you would not have suffered vision loss. This issue will require consultation with experts in this medical field to determine.
You may also have a claim against an optometrist if you have a loss of vision during minor surgical procedures they may perform such as foreign body removal or laser eye surgery. In order to determine if you have a malpractice case for vision loss from one of these surgical procedures, your records will have to be reviewed and experts will have to be consulted. The main question is whether the injury to your eye following one of these procedures is considered an accepted and known complication of the procedure or was medical negligence that another reasonably knowledgeable and prudent optometrist would not have caused.
Beyond proving negligence and causation you will also have to prove what your damages are. This will include what your medical care is going forward, the cost of any home health aides due to your loss of vision, and any lost wages that you have. An experienced attorney will be able to help you work that out as well as gather your records and speak to the right medical experts to determine if you have a medical malpractice case.
The Thistle Law Firm is experienced in handling medical malpractice cases involving loss of vision. If you or a loved one believe your vision loss was due to the medical neglect of your optometrist, the attorneys at the Thistle Law Firm are here to take your call and answer your questions at 215-568-6800.