Grandmother Relives Agony Of Operation Which Left Her Partially Sighted

Atherstone Victim Speaks Out For Eye Health Week


Kate Rawlings, Press Officer | 0114 274 4238

A grandmother-of-four who lost most of her vision in one eye after a cataract operation went drastically wrong has spoken about her ordeal for Eye Health Week, in the hope that it will prevent others from suffering like she has.

Maureen Wheatley had the routine day surgery to have a cataract removed from her left eye, after an optician referred her in 2011, having previously had the same procedure on her right eye in 2005.

But the mother-of-two from Atherstone, near Coventry, was left in agony after a surgeon at the George Eliot Hospital in  Nuneaton, Warwickshire, failed to remove a large air bubble inserted into Maureen’s eye, which put dangerous and unbearable pressure on her optic nerve.

Emergency doctors at the University Hospital Coventry raced against the clock to reduce the pressure in Maureen’s eye but by the time they managed to control her symptoms, the damage caused by the air bubble was irreversible and the 74-year-old was left with severely reduced vision in the left eye.

Maureen’s injury meant she can no longer judge distance and depth accurately forcing her to give up driving, her hobbies of sewing and gardening and causing her to lose much of her social life and independence.

To make the situation worse Maureen claimed she was treated poorly by George Elliot Hospital staff who tried to fob her off, told her there was ‘nothing wrong with her’ and indicated that a legal battle against them would be futile.

Maureen enlisted the help of medical negligence experts from national law firm, Irwin Mitchell, who specialise in eye claims to investigate the treatment Maureen received. The George Elliot Hospital NHS Trust settled the case against them this year.

Maureen’s lawyers were able to secure her damages to cover the costs of her on-going care needs, which are hanging in the balance after an optician discovered her right eye has become cloudy again and she may require further treatment to try and save some of her sight.

Expert Opinion
Our vision is precious and deserves a high standard of care and treatment. While most eye treatments are conducted to a high standard, unfortunately Maureen did not receive the service she should have.

Not only did her treatment leave her partially sighted, she then suffered the emotional trauma of being told it was part of the normal ageing process and that she’d have to live with it.

Its cases like Maureen’s which illustrate the importance of getting experts to question your care if you are at all concerned with the treatment you have received and we commend her bravery in speaking out about what she went through.
Jenna Harris, Associate

Retired book-keeper Maureen, who lives with her husband George, 75, said: “It felt busy in the waiting room the morning of my procedure and I got the impression they were in a rush. Another woman came out after me told us she had been so long because the surgeon had to remove an air bubble he’d inserted and it made me question why mine had been left in and I’d been told it would naturally disperse.”

Maureen had woken in the night after her procedure in severe, nausea inducing, agony. The pain she felt was like nothing she had ever experienced.

She added: “The pain I felt was excruciating and like nothing I’d ever experienced before. I could barely stand up and couldn’t bear the light. To be told that there was nothing wrong with my eye after all of that made me feel terrible.

“Losing so much of my vision makes it hard to go out on my own as I get easily startled when people pass me or walk up behind me as I can’t judge the distance. I also have problems with steps and have fallen over a curb many a time. It’s knocked my confidence.

“I now rely on George to help me if I want to go and visit my family or grandchildren, I’ve had to give up the things I love and now face losing the vision in my other eye which is terrifying. I just want other people who find themselves in a situation like mine to question their treatment and not to accept what doctors are telling them. You put all of your trust in them because they are experts but like my case proves, sometimes they are far from right.”

The seventh annual National Eye Health Week (NEHW) runs from 19 – 25 September and will see eye care charities, organisations and health professionals from across the UK join together to promote the importance of eye health and the need for regular sight tests for all.

Find out more here.