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Boyes Turner’s medical negligence specialists have secured an admission of negligence from a high street optician arising from a failure to detect optic atrophy, caused by a brain tumour, during an eye examination of a two year old boy.

The boy’s mother booked him in for an eye test on the advice of her health visitor and GP when she was worried that he had a squint and couldn’t see the TV.

The optician agreed to examine the toddler but used inappropriate methods of testing for a two year old child. Using an auto-refractor instead of retinoscopy under cyclopegia (paralysis of the ciliary muscle of the eye), and subjective rather than objective testing for the visual fields, he attributed the boy’s inability to respond through blindness as lack of cooperation.

The mother was told to bring the boy back a few months later when he was older and able to cooperate. A diagnosis of healthy eyesight was made and no action taken in relation to the squint. 

Five months later, on further examination, despite the mother’s repeated concerns, the optician made the same diagnosis. Under pressure from the mother, the optician referred the child back to the GP.

The GP referred him to hospital where the ophthalmologist immediately detected optic atrophy. An urgent MRI revealed a craniopharyngioma (benign brain tumour). One of the cysts in the tumour was pressing on the optic nerve. As a result the boy had lost almost all of his vision. His  condition at that time was such that signs of optic atrophy must have been present but undetected during the previous optician’s examination.

The boy underwent an urgent surgical procedure (called marsupialization of the craniopharyngioma) to drain the cyst and take the pressure off the optic nerve but the damage had already been done. He is now registered blind.

The defendant optician admitted failing to carry out an adequate eye examination of the two year old boy, which resulted in a five to six month delay in diagnosis and treatment. The extent of the additional loss of eyesight during the period of delay remains in issue.

Judgment has been entered and an interim payment of £10,000 obtained to provide for the child’s urgent needs, including a BrailleNote computer. We are now working with experts to assess the full value of the claim.