Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the US (diabetes is the first); but the condition can often be treated with medication and does not always require surgery. Sometimes glaucoma medications fail to control fluid pressure in the eye, or sometimes their side effects are intolerable to the patient. In these cases, surgery to treat glaucoma may be performed.
Glaucoma is a disease of the eye that affects the optic nerve and is often characterized by high fluid pressure in the eye (intraocular pressure, or IOP). African-Americans, especially over the age of 40, have a much higher risk (6-8 times higher) of developing this disease than Caucasians of the same age. African-Americans also have a much higher risk of becoming permanently blind due to glaucoma. Certain people of Asian descent also have a higher risk of developing acute angle-closure glaucoma, and all people over age 40 have an increased risk for this eye disease.
The increased intraocular pressure can cause vision loss and blindness and can be quite painful. Treatments for glaucoma seek to enable or increase the release of fluid from the eye to preserve eyesight and alleviate pain.
As with any treatment or surgical procedure there is a certain level of risk, however, if your eye injuries or blindness were caused by carelessness or negligence as the result of undergoing glaucoma surgery, you may be entitled to compensation for emotional anguish and suffering, lost wages, and for the cost of present and future medical treatment.
There are two main surgical treatments for glaucoma – laser surgery and filtration surgery.
In laser surgery, called laser Trabeculoplasty, a laser burns tiny holes in the drainage area and forms a scar, resulting in increased drainage of fluid from the eye. The procedure is short, includes little discomfort, and generally has few complications. But the laser surgery oftentimes is not a complete cure, and patients need to continue their use of medications and eye drops following the procedure. In about 35% of patients, there is an actual increase in fluid pressure in the eye following laser surgery. While this typically subsides, in some cases it is permanent and leads to vision loss. Laser surgery can also cause complications that cause the iris to stick to the cornea.
In filtration surgery, called a Trabeculectomy, a flap is made in the eyeball to create passage for fluid to drain out. The surgery may include removal or part of the iris though this is not required. A small bleb or bubble generally forms near the opening in the eye, which is a sign that fluid is draining out. While this procedure is normally highly effective, there are common complications associated with it. Blebs, especially thin ones created by mediocre surgery, commonly leak and put patients at risk of infection of the eye, bleeding, flattening of the eye, and dangerous inflammation. Filtration surgery may also cause significant scarring that blocks up drainage in the eye and leads to increased pressure again. Complications or problems from either leaking blebs or scarring can require additional surgical intervention, a great deal of pain, and eventually loss of eyesight.
The number one malpractice claim against glaucoma surgery treatments is that the procedure was incorrectly performed on them.
Do You Have A Medical Malpractice Claim?
Surgeons must provide their patients with a certain standard of care. In order to pursue compensation on a surgical / medical malpractice claim, you will need to prove that the mistake made by your surgeon or eye doctor was the actual cause of the injury (and that your injury was preventable). Problems you are experiencing with your eyes may be a result of your doctor’s poor performance either during surgery or in diagnosing your problem. If you are going through problems or complications after undergoing glaucoma surgery, it is important that you get legal advice quickly and from experienced attorneys.
California medical malpractice claims must be filed within a certain time frame so it is important that you contact an attorney as soon as possible. Call us today for a free, no obligation consultation and we can help you start uncovering the truth about your injury. If you have a medical negligence claim, we will fight aggressively to settle your case quickly and fairly, however, when insurance companies refuse to pay fairly on claims, our law firm has experienced trial lawyers that can take your case to court.
Contact our Los Angeles medical malpractice attorneys today, so we can help ensure you will have the financial resources to take care your yourself and your family.