Were you offered ‘lifetime aftercare’ before agreeing to laser eye surgery with Optical Express? The campaigner Sasha Rodoy shares stories from hundreds of patients who say this has now turned into ’12 month aftercare’…
Since 2012, both as campaigner and patient advocate, I have spoken with thousands of people wanting advice or help following laser eye surgery.
Over the last few weeks hundreds of Optical Express patients have contacted me, left in shock after trying to book appointments only to be told that they will no longer receive free aftercare of any description. Each of them have told me that they were offered either free ‘lifetime’ or ‘unlimited’ aftercare. And I’m sure there are thousands more to come when they discover this change in policy.
Free lifetime aftercare
Neil told me:
‘We have just been told that my wife will now be required to pay for eye tests and products by Optical Express. We were told when we signed up for the treatment in Nov 2013 that we were not to worry as the treatment was covered by their Free Lifetime Aftercare Guarantee and so far they have honoured this for the past 2 years and 5 months.’
Paul has also suffered:
‘After surgery in 2012 I cannot see at night or in low light. Optical Express prescribed pilocarpine which allowed me to drive and commute to work, but now they have told me they will no longer supply this. Without help I am really at my wits end, it is affecting me mentally and has affected my marriage. I have become a recluse suffering from eye strain and headaches dreading not being able to see when dusk comes.’
Optical Express responds
An Optical Express spokesperson said last week:
‘For a period of time in 2009 we offered free lifetime aftercare to our laser eye surgery patients. As technology developed and the procedure became even more successful, it became clear to our Medical Advisors that the vast majority of patients only required aftercare in the early stages following their surgery. In October 2009, we changed our terms and conditions to offer 12 months of free aftercare instead.’
However, there is too much anecdotal evidence that a promise of lifetime aftercare was the reason many people chose to get laser eye survey with Optical Express. People like Hannah:
‘I had laser eye surgery with Optical Express three years ago and was promised FREE lifetime aftercare. However I’m now being told that I have to pay £50 for an eye test? Optical Express claim that it’s in my terms and conditions that my free aftercare is only for two years. However I was promised FREE eye care after surgery for LIFE!’
Laser eye surgery T&Cs
Although Optical Express claims that the need for long-term aftercare is small, what about those who do need aftercare beyond 12 months? Let alone the fact that so many people have said they were sold ‘lifetime’ aftercare after October 2009.
Some of the people who have received free aftercare far beyond 12 months post op are now apparently being told that this was a ‘goodwill gesture’.
In fact, I have a number of different versions of Optical Express’ T&Cs. A November 2014 copy states that there will be free aftercare consultations for 24 months, and a July 2013 copy states 36 months. Therefore, free ’12 month’ aftercare doesn’t seem to be the standard since 2009. Some patients have said they weren’t ever given T&Cs, and when they’ve asked Optical Express for a copy of them they have been asked to pay anywhere from £10-50 for them.
If Optical Express refuse aftercare then it falls on the NHS to do so – in fact I’ve heard from a number of patients who have had to go to their GP for medication, and referrals for reparative surgery.
Did you get laser eye surgery with Optical Express? Were you promised free ‘lifetime’ or ‘unlimited’ aftercare? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. And if you have a copy of your terms and conditions, please send to the Which? Conversation team at firstname.lastname@example.org
This is a guest contribution by Sasha Rodoy. All opinions are her own, not necessarily those of Which?