US class action over cataract eye operations

London: A group of elderly people left fighting for their sight following failed cataract surgery is taking leading American lens companies to court in a bid to win millions in compensation.

OAPS from across the UK suffered years of misery after major problems with the lenses used in operations to clear their cataracts.

Within months of their original surgery victims like Joan Steel, 78, from Morecambe, Lancashire, and Thomas Allcott, 70, of Tamworth in the West Midlands were struggling to see again.

And many of the elderly men and women were forced to go through second operations in a desperate bid to improve their vision.

Some even suffered further eye conditions caused by the trauma of trying to rectify their sight.

More than 300,000 cataract operations are carried out in the UK every year.

Bad packaging is thought to have contaminated lenses used in their surgery

Legal firm Birchall Blackburn represent 179 people worldwide who are taking on the American lens manufacturers in a bid to win compensation.

Eight elderly people in Britain – including Mrs Steel and Mr Allcott – face a court showdown with one specific Florida-based company, Medical Development Research, who supplied lens type SC60B-OUV which was used in their failed surgery.

But the numbers both globally and in the UK are rising all the time as more people become aware what has caused the problems with their sight.

Up to 50,000 people could have been affected by the alleged contaminated lenses worldwide. In Britain the figure could be as high as 2,400 people.

Mr Allcott, a jeweller for 50 years in Birmingham’s jewellery quarter said: “Trying to sort out my sight has taken four years of my life – but even now my vision is not the same.

“The operation on my left eye was simple enough but within months of the lens going in my vision was cloudy.

“Initially I was told my vision wouldn’t get any worse, but that was no good to me. As a jeweller I need my sight.

“I had a second operation to improve my sight which involved making an incision and replacing the lens and there was always the chance it could go wrong.

“Fortunately it went well – but I still had to spend the next two years with stitches in my eyes which was frustrating.

“I have also developed another condition which I believe is down to the surgery I have had on my eye and as a result the vision in my left eye is slightly bent.”

Mrs Steel underwent her first eye operation in 1998 and was soon suffering from cloudy vision.

Despite under going corrective laser surgery and a second operation the grandmother of two has been left with poor vision. One eye is still too painful to touch.

“I expected my vision to be improved,” she said. “Instead I have been through years of problems.

“I need help getting around now and I have hurt my legs from falling over repeatedly.”

Mr Allcott added: “I decided to fight for compensation because the last few years have been very tough.”

Duncan Stackhouse of Birchall Blackburn, said: “We still really don’t have any idea how many people have been affected by these defective lenses – the clients we are representing could just be the tip of the iceberg.

“Taking on the manufacturer through the American courts is a brave step for them to take.

“All our clients are at the stage in their lives when they should be relaxing and enjoying themselves – unfortunately, because of what has happened, they have not been able to do that.

“They should not have to sweep their suffering under the carpet and struggle on – they have every right to fight for some recompense.”