/ 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?


All these complainers say thy were told Was it put in writing? have they the proof ? Sue and I see Optical Express closing down bankrupt rather than pay out as it appears to me to be a dodgy company which does not keep it’s promises or now cannot afford too Never used them and now never will

Nyomi says:
20 January 2018

I just don’t understand how they are getting away with this! It’s clearly a really widespread problem. Can’t we all join forces on a legal case?

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I have my brochure from 2013 when I got my surgery displaying the free eye tests for life and lifetime of free comprehensive aftercare. I rang optical express to book an appt and they said I was only entitled to 12 months aftercare even though I went to them in late 2013 for a free check up. I’m going to ring a manager tomoro to challenge again.

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Hi Clare, are you able to send me a copy of that brochure, as I also had my replacement lens op in 2013, and also advised free aftercare for life, however cannot find any documentation pertaining to this.
I have asked for my T&C’s and told it will cost £50 to retrieve copy, not sure if this is legal under GDPR legislation.
My left eye is now quite hazy, and I have to pay £50 pounds for a test. Also I note on the website that 20% of lens replacement patients need to have “YAG” procedures.

“YAG laser capsulotomy
Refractive lens exchange gives excellent results, but in the months or years that follow treatment, approximately 20% of patients may notice that their vision is fading. This is a common side effect of refractive lens exchange and is caused by the thickening of the lens capsule in which the new lens sits. This thickening causes vision to become hazy, but can be easily treated.”

The reason I went with RLE was due to free health care 20/20 vision for life, weighing this up against the cost of glasses or contacts for life.

Again now told any corrective surgery is chargeable.

Some questions:
When did this policy change?
When did OE advise on the 20% corrective surgery requirement?
Can the NHS carry this out?
What are my rights as to a prosion of a service not fit for purpose?

[Hello your John, I’m afraid we’ve had to remove your email address to protect you – we can help share the brochure if Clare is happy to send that to us at conversation.comments@which.co.uk. Thanks, mods]

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Janes Fleming says:
16 April 2021

Hi Clare, would you be able to share a copy of the brochure? I have the T&Cs (36 months aftercare) but I don’t have anything advertising the free lifetime aftercare. My procedure was carried out in 2013

caroline ballard says:
15 March 2018

I had my surgery in 2011 and was offered free check ups for life.

But only got free check ups for 3 years. And within that time Optical Express sent me a letter that states I am entitled to free check ups (I had had issues with getting my free check up)

I have spoken with a few members of staff and they have told me that my free entitlement has finished. And that the letter I have, is referring to free check ups with in a certain them frame. (The letter mentions no end date for my free check ups)

I have also emailed Optical Express regarding this matter and they ignored my email.

Doesn’t seem fair to offer a service and then take it away. Very obvious they just want to get more money out of their customers.

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Jackie says:
2 April 2018

I had lifetime optical express corrective eye surgery back in 2000. I had the lifetime guarantee and was told that if my eyes deteriorated I would be entitled to further free corrective surgery. I was also advised I would get free eye tests yearly. A few years back I went in to book my free eye test and was told that there was no record of me. I was fortunate enough that I’d saved all of my paperwork and I went back in and received my free eye test. Two years later I tried to book another free appointment and once again they said they had no record. The first time it was because of a computer error, god knows what the second time was. Needless to say it’s an uphill battle to get the company to honour their original commitment

Hi , I had laser eye surgery December 2009 with the promise of a life time guarantee, I m currently struggling with my eyesight…

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Steve says:
17 April 2018

I was told free eye care for life after laser surgery in 2010 including all eye tests, I now have to pay for eye tests and eye drops at Optical Express. I was also told I had a 10 year guarantee for corrective surgery if needed, a few years back my eyes deteriorated and they started to give me prices for corrective surgery, I told them I had a 10 year warranty which they questioned but did give in and said I was covered. However after admitting I was covered for 10 years they then started to say that surgery would not benefit my sight as there was only a slight deterioration, I will be going to a different optician this year as I believe I am not being told the truth about my eye condition and do not trust Optical Express. I also enquired about lens replacement, the sales guy did the eye tests to see if I was suitable, he had 4 attempts at my left eye to try to get the reading from the machine to say I was OK for lens replacement saying the machine was playing up, in hindsight he was trying to fudge the reading to say I was suitable again I do not trust them. The branch I used was Merry Hill, West Midlands. Steve.

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Is there a class action against them?

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You will be pleased to know DL that I have beeen following the story for some years – even down to the financial re-structuring. However I was hoping that someone with very current knowledge would save me wading through the lengthy history of OE and its exploits.

The reneging of contracts you would think an important case for Which? to be involved in.

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Search engine DieselTaylor and OEMRL and you may find it interesting.

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I am surprised at your failing!! 🙂

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Kate says:
15 January 2019

Can’t find anything??

Carolyn says:
21 June 2018

I was promised free lifetime care as long as I had an eye test with Optical Express at least every two years which I would have to pay for. My last test was very brief, less than 10 mins and they charged me over £50. When I queried this later on the phone they said it cost more than a standard eye test because of some specialist tests they perform on people who have had laser surgery. I asked what these tests we’re and I hadn’t had any of them. Then they said these tests weren’t available at my branch and I would have to travel some distance to another branch to have them. I asked why I had been charged for something I hadn’t had, but they just kept saying I needed to go to another branch. In the end I got a refund of about £20 and I won’t bother with them again.

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I had lens replacement in December 2012 and January 2013 (2nd eye delayed as first one was unclear after surgery, but improved later). I was promised free aftercare for life including eye tests, but now been told they charge £50 for eye tests which is far more expensive than local opticians. I’m now having problems with left eye and told by 2 opticians that I need laser surgery for cloudiness (known as PCO), but Optical Express said I would have to pay for this. No reputable company would do this to their customers.

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Hi W Coombes, Do you have the original Terms and Conditions stating ‘Free Lifetime Aftercare’?

Andrew B says:
1 October 2018

I had the surgery in Feb 2015 and was promised free comprehensive aftercare. I have an email with a link to my T&Cs however surprise surprise the link has expired. I did however find it written in the iScan report on the final page under reasons to choose Optical Express. I have sent this through to them requesting that my give me an eyee test FoC. I will let you know how this goes.

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Astounded to find this thread, I had lens replacement in November 2013 and my decision to proceed was based on the fact that I would have full cover for life, it was explained that I may need corrective action in the form of a couple of minutes using a laser at no charge to myself, so what did have to lose.
About 2 year’s after I thought I was not seeing as clear as previously, phoned up and they made an appointment for a check up, at the test they said they could see a small area but were surprised I could notice so advised that I should wait and see if it develops.
No charge or questions so I thought fair play they were as good as their word.
Today I thought it’s coming up 5 year’s and I should make an appointment to have a check up only to be told there would be a charge of £50 and there is no lifetime service and never has been, I asked to speak to the person who I dealt with but he “no longer works here” came the reply.
I have looked for paperwork but I can’t find it in the normal place so now in the can’t prove it position.
I’m fortunate that my sight is fine and not urgent but absolutely fuming that they deny there was a lifetime care in the sales pitch and glad to find I’m not the only one.

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There is a lively group of ex-customers – search for Sasha and OERML on the Internet. Here we hope that Which? Legal or even the magazine will look at the issues raised over the last 30 months in this denial of contracted terms.

I had my surgery in 2014, also on the promise of free aftercare for life . I went for check up for a couple of years afterwards – all no problem. in the last one i was told there was some cloudiness appearing in one eye and told ‘we can do something about that in the future ‘ but you don’t need to come back for a year or so. I have just been to an optician locally to me who has picked up on the cloudiness and told me to go back to OE. So i just called them and sure enough was told i would have to pay £50. I challenged but they said i was outside my post care period. I have checked the documents given to me at the time and realise now that they don’t reflect what i was told, in fact they say very little for alot of words. I would go to the NHS but the optician i saw this morning was quite unpleasant about the fact that i had had lense replacement and didn’t offer the NHS as an option.

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Thanks for the advice – much appreciated.

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I don’t think it uncommon in the UK. Regular worming of Dogs and cats is recommended to control the parasite. Anyone should wash their hands after contact with them. Not a reliable solution for young children who will stick their fingers in their mouths. Keep tabs on where they play. At least many pet owners clean up now.

I had my eye laser surgery done in 2014, I was sold lifetime guarantee and even the guy that was doing my surgery said that I need an older version in case they needed to redo it. Now my eye sight is deteriorating and Optical Express said I signed T&C with 2 year guarantee. Reading the comments I’m getting an idea this is common but how have you dealt with it? It looks they quietly changed the T&C’s but were still actively misselling the 10 year guarantee. Did you complain to Ombudsmen? Did you manage to convince them to redo the surgery?

@gmartin, morning George :-). These complaints about Optical Express’s refusal to honour their “guarantees” have been made for a long time by a considerable number of people who believe they have been duped. Have Which? looked at contracts to see whether the complainants are right? If they are, is this not exactly the kind of consumer problem that Which? should be dealing with? Has it done anything?

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Hi Malcolm. So sorry for my lack of response here – I was off last week and have only just seen this. I’ll do my best to find out for you, as always.

Hi George, did you manage to find anything out about this?

Hi Ian. I didn’t, but I will revive the email chain and chase for responses.

Kevin Allitt says:
6 November 2018

I went there to consider having surgery, i was promised a lifetime’s worth of aftercare and if I ever needed my eyesight re-doing this aftercare also included correction suirgery ie correcting again and again and again as a part of the lifetime cover so I would always have perfect vision.

Posting simply so I can be sent a message when there is a response. : )

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I had lens replacement surgery back in 2012 through OE. I was told the lens were guaranteed for 60 years and that I would have free lifetime aftercare. About 18 months after surgery, my right eye started becoming cloudy and they carried out a quick laser procedure which corrected the problem. In the past few months I have noticed that my left eye has started to get cloudy so I contacted them a recently only to be told they now only offer three years aftercare and I was outside that time frame. I was horrified as the free lifetime aftercare was my insurance against future eyecare costs. Is there anyway we can take a joint legal action against them????

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I had lens replacementin both eyes in 2012. I’ve had 2 YAG treatments but now my right eyes is blurred and making me blink a lot. I also have a lot of floaters and terrible headaches. OE won’t honour my lifetime aftercare and unfortunately i cannot fin my paperwork. I can’t afford to pay for anymore treatment. The service is apalling

Hi Cheryl, We would recommend getting medical advice from your GP to investigate the symptoms you describe.

Linda Taylor says:
19 February 2019

I had laser eye surgery in 2011. I was told I had life time free cover if I ever needed corrective surgery. I have phoned today to say I have been told I need glasses for driving only to be told I have to pay. I have been told they do not keep a copy of personal terms and conditions and will not honor the agreement as i cannot find my copy of my T/C. Disgusting practice!!