Medical malpractice comes in many forms, but blindness caused by a doctor’s negligence or incompetence has to be one of the most tragic. According to recent studies, thousands of people lose their eyesight each year due to preventable medical errors during surgery or treatment.
- Anesthesia mistakes are a leading cause. Errors in administering anesthesia, especially general anesthesia, can deprive the eyes of oxygen and lead to permanent damage. Excessive anesthesia doses, improper intubation, and failure to monitor oxygen levels during prolonged surgeries are frequent culprits.
- Undetected or untreated infections also pose risks. Eye infections like endophthalmitis that occur after cataract surgery or intravitreal injections often cause irreparable harm if not diagnosed and treated promptly with antibiotics. Doctors must closely monitor patients for signs of infection post-procedure.
- Improper use or handling of medical devices can lead to vision loss. Tools like lasers or pharmaceutical injections used during treatment need to be operated properly by skilled physicians to avoid harming vision. Reusing single-use devices risks transferring infections as well.
- Failure to diagnose or monitor underlying conditions. Diseases like glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and macular degeneration can often be managed well if detected early through regular eye exams and screening. But left undetected or untreated due to a doctor’s failure, they frequently lead to permanent vision loss.
While not all medical errors are avoidable, many cases of vision loss are preventable with properly trained doctors, strict safety protocols, comprehensive monitoring, and open communication between physicians and patients about risks. If you suspect you or a loved one has experienced Blindness caused by medical malpractice, consult with a medical professional as well as legal counsel regarding next steps.
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Common Causes of Doctor-Induced Blindness
When doctors make mistakes during treatment or surgery, the consequences can be devastating. Two of the most common causes of Blindness caused by medical malpractice are errors during cataract surgery and laser eye surgery.
Cataract Surgery Errors
Cataract surgery is one of the most common procedures performed in the U.S., with over 3 million done annually. It’s also very safe, but not without risks. The most frequent mistakes include:
- Using the wrong lens implant. With so many options, surgeons can grab the wrong lens power or type. This can result in vision that’s blurry, distorted or the wrong range.
- Damaging the lens capsule. The thin membrane that holds the lens in place can tear or rupture, allowing lens fragments into the eye. This causes inflammation, scarring and often glaucoma or retinal detachment.
- Infection. While rare, infections can develop if proper sterile technique isn’t followed. Antibiotics are used to treat infection but permanent vision loss may still occur.
- Hemorrhage or retinal detachment. Excessive bleeding or a detached retina shortly after surgery requires immediate treatment to prevent blindness.
Laser Eye Surgery Errors
Laser eye surgeries like PRK and Lasik are popular for correcting vision, but also require the utmost precision. The risks include:
- Inaccurate laser treatment. If the laser isn’t properly targeted, it can cause vision to be under- or over-corrected, or induce astigmatism. Enhancement surgeries are often needed to fix such errors.
- Flap complications. With Lasik, a flap is cut in the cornea and lifted, then repositioned after treatment. If the flap isn’t cut or repositioned properly, it can lead to scarring, vision loss and even need for corneal transplants to restore sight.
- Dry eyes. While usually temporary, dry eyes are common after laser eye surgery but can become chronic if not properly managed. Severe dry eyes may damage the cornea and inner eye, causing permanent vision impairment.
The key is to find a skilled doctor with extensive experience in the procedure, ask questions about their outcomes and error rates, get a second opinion if needed, and follow all post-operative care instructions carefully. Your vision is worth the extra effort.
The Devastating Effects of Vision Loss From Medical Errors
The loss of vision can be an extremely traumatic experience. When it occurs due to medical malpractice, the devastation is compounded by feelings of betrayal and injustice.
Loss of Independence
Without the ability to see, daily tasks become difficult or impossible to do on your own. You lose independence and autonomy, relying on others to help with everything from getting dressed to preparing meals. Mobility is hindered, as you can no longer drive yourself places or get around easily without assistance. This dependence on others can lead to feelings of helplessness, frustration, and depression.
Career and Financial Impacts
Vision loss often means losing the ability to work, especially in jobs that require visual acuity. This results in loss of income and financial instability. Even with disability payments or lawsuits, the costs of medical care, mobility aids, and daily assistance can be burdensome. There are additional costs for learning new skills to adapt to vision loss, like braille or orientation and mobility training.
Strain on Relationships
Relationships with close family and friends may become strained. Loved ones usually step in to provide care and assistance, but the demands can become overwhelming and lead to resentment over time. Vision loss also means losing the ability to connect visually with others, interpreting facial expressions, and sharing meaningful glances. This lack of visual connection and increased reliance on others puts pressure on relationships that can be difficult to sustain.