/ Health

What happened to Optical Express’ ‘lifetime’ guarantee?


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 conversation.comments@which.co.uk

This is a guest contribution by Sasha Rodoy. All opinions are her own, not necessarily those of Which?

Val ROBERTS says:
22 February 2019

You can make a Subject Access Request for your original signed Terms and Conditions and indeed any other documents they hold regarding you. It may cost £10. If they have lost it, then they have lost your “personal data” in terms of the GDPR, and you can complain to the office of the Information Commissioner.

Luke Hall says:
3 April 2019

I had LASIK eye surgery in 2009. My eyes have already started to deteriorate. I was told in my consultation that I would get free aftercare for life and this was in my terms and conditions, which I sadly don’t have. I even convinced my best mate to have it done and his procedure cost more money, again they told him the same thing. When I now phone to say I need to see someone they tell me I have to pay £50 for an eye test, I said no and was told I have free aftercare for life and that the manager at the then Southampton branch “Adam” had his done and told me the aftercare was definitely for life. They told me to contact customer support so they could look at my contract. They told me they had checked it and said it definitely was not on they even though I know it is. They said whoever told me about the free aftercare for life should not have told me that. As my eyes are bad I had to pay for a checkup and would only make me an appt if I paid the money up front. This place is so terrible. I wish I had gone elsewhere or not at all.

3 June 2019

I had laser eye surgery in 2008 and was told free eye tests for life with optical express. Just rang the Liverpool branch last week to book an eye test and was told it will cost me £75 . Absolute disgrace

Richard W. says:
5 June 2019

My eye surgery was in 2009 and I was promised lifetime cover for eye tests and aftercare. They said they will honour it if I bring in my T&C’s who keeps T&C’s for 10 years? Absolute disgrace, I have a current issue with my eyes and they said it will cost me £75! There should be a law against this, whether you have the terms & conditions or not, that was promised at the time and Optical Express know it, if they changed the policy after that fact, then that should be binding with the public who had eye surgery with them at that time.

Ben says:
19 June 2019

I had Laser eye surgery 15years ago at the Milton Keynes branch. Thankfully my eyes remain in good condition, but I do need reading glasses when working with computers or my mobile phone.
My surgery included the “lifetime aftercare” package, to which I did receive a couple of free eye tests and a free set of reading glasses, the last one of these was around 2012/13 when I moved to a new location.
I recently lost these glasses, so called the bookings line to see if I could order a new set (for which I was totally prepared to pay for). I was told I needed to have an eye check up as it’d been a few years, and I was booked into my new local Optical Express for tests.
Upon arriving, going through the open door and waiting in an unattended waiting room for 10minutes, a young 20something receptionist wanders in and complains that I should have waited outside on the street (in the rain!) pressing an entry button! She then says she was going to call me on my phone, but didn’t, and says that the cost of the appointment was £75!!
I said that I’d had the laser eye surgery and that included the lifetime aftercare. She replied that they don’t do that anymore and that I should check my T&Cs documents from 15years ago!! They now only offer 12months “lifetime” aftercare!
I said that all I wanted was to get a new pair of glasses and didn’t need an eye test, but this was refused and said they wouldn’t do anything without testing first!
If I wanted a copy of my T&C’s, I should contact the head office for a copy to be sent out.
I rang the head office and issued a complaint, to which I’m waiting on a response. I was told that I shouldn’t have been charged any more then £25 for a check-up and that their promise of lifetime aftercare was no longer offered with today’s packages.
I explained that the aftercare side was one of the reasons why I chose them to begin with, but all I got was a “sorry for your confusion!”

I left and went to Vision Express, got seen in 5mins and had a new set of glasses, eye test and check-up all for under £60! Plus the staff were very courteous! Some were ex-OE employees who said the business changed policies on almost a 6month basis and was the reason for them leaving due to lack of customer care vs profit!
I would strongly recommend anyone thinking about dealing with Optical Express to reconsider other options, or at the very least, keep all copies of paperwork in case they make changes and claim the promises made to you never existed!

Diane Evans says:
26 July 2019

I had Lasik eye surgery in Optical Express, Princes St in Edinburgh on 1st April 2010, I was told my procedure was covered by a lifetime guarantee, and I would be able to get the procedure repeated if needed (which was one of the reasons I got it done) I used their messaging service today, to enquire about this and was told that it was only covered by one year! I will ask for a copy of my terms and conditions…

Philip dear says:
16 August 2019

I had my eyes done by optical express and was told lifetime care after about a year had to have one eye re done then about an other year eyesight went again they redone my iSight went shortly afterward and they said I would have to pay what happened to lifetime care don’t use them

I had really dry eyes before lasik surgery with optical express in 2009 was advised that dryness after surgery would only be temporary ha. 10 years later I am using three types of eye drops constantly which I have to self fund after optical express renaged on their free lifetime aftercare.worst decision I have ever made and it wasn’t made lightly I had three consultations over 5 years before going ahead.

10 years ago they didn’t have all the facts Carol , now there is a specialist test that should be performed -Schirmer test .
When a piece of your cornea is cut it also kills some nerves which affect the eyes ability to transmit to your brain that they are dry , some people should never be given this operation as they have natural dryness .
Old age
certain medications
dry atmosphere
can cause this eye problem as well as those with a high degree of myopia.

I have attended two NHS hospitals for years now and had both eye lens replaced (cataracts ) + glaucoma in which a laser was used to drill holes in my eyes to release the water pressure build up in the eyes that end up killing the nerves and total blindness .
Both operation were a total success–no longer a need to wear glasses , even with a new 4K monitor , all done through the NHS at no cost to me.
I still attend every 6 months for eye tests -no charge .
It enabled me, after government eye tests ( contracted out ) to get my driving license back .

In the years attending those hospitals every specialist- consultant – Professor – even the nurses said that not one of them would get this operation as in 20 years time it gave them big problems correcting other eye problems , this has been played down by commercial interests but I believe all the NHS staff and they told me straight to my face , they would rather wear specs than get it done.

To back this up over the years a I have spoken to a large number of patients in the waiting rooms complaining of the same problem as you and regretting the action they took .

My advice (for what its worth )? make a NHS appointment to get a completely unbiased report on your eyes , your eyes are the light of the world that’s why I am leaving all I have to the Blind Society I know what its like to stumble down a road, unable to distinguish peoples faces and unable to see text on a monitor or read a newspaper –thank God for the NHS .

Dennis Sheehan says:
18 September 2019

I am in the same situation. I still have a spec of dirt that looks like a floater in the eye. I went back several times after the surgery but they could not find anything. now it has gotten worse and they are looking for €80 for a checkup, I too was promised lifetime care

Normally floaters reduce in size over time and the brain can ignore them but if yours is getting bigger it could be down to too many possibilities to list here Dennis .
If I was you I would go to an NHS optician for a unbiased opinion first.