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Lawsuit: Texas optometrist misdiagnoses torn retina

Flashes and floaters in vision are signs of a potential medical emergency

Painter Law Firm recently filed a lawsuit in Galveston County, Texas against an optometrist who misdiagnosed a League City patient.

This middle-aged woman had gone to her optometrist for a regular eye exam. She shared with her optometrist that she had blurry distance and near vision but had a normal exam with corrected vision of 20/20 in both eyes. The optometrist dilated her eyes and defined this exam to examine correctness.

Less than a month later, the woman returned to the same eye clinic, but saw different optometrist. On this occasion, she complained of seeing flashes of light followed by a dark spine. The standard of care requires an optometrist to recognize this as a classic symptom of a problem with the retina that requires immediate medical attention by an ophthalmologist. The retina is a thin layer of cells at the back of the eyes that is essential for vision.

While optometrists handle basic eye care, including eye exams for prescribing contact lenses or glasses, medical care for serious issues should be referred to medical doctors in the field of ophthalmology.

Instead of recognizing the patient’s classic symptoms of a torn or detached retina in referring her to an ophthalmologist or retina specialist for immediate evaluation, the second optometrist diagnosed her with blepharitis, or inflammation of the eyelids.

It’s inconceivable how irritated eyelids could cause flashes of light followed by a large floater that disrupts vision in one eye, but that’s the mistake that optometrist made on that date.

About a week later, when the symptoms did not improve, the patient saw ophthalmologist at a separate clinic. She told him about her persistent problem of an arc of light in her left eye and the large floater. She also had experienced a sudden drop in vision in that eye the day before she went to see the ophthalmologist. He measured left eye vision as 20/200, with a loss of visual field on the nasal/nose side.

When the ophthalmologist examined her retina with the dilated fundus exam, as required by the standard of care, he immediately diagnosed a temporal retinal detachment with the macula off. He scheduled her for surgery with a retina specialist the next day.

Despite these surgical and medical interventions, the patient was left with a permanent visual impairment.

If you’ve been seriously because of poor care by an optometrist in Texas, then contact a top rated experienced medical malpractice lawyer for free consultation about your potential case.

Robert Painter is an award-winning medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm PLLC, in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits all over Texas. Contact him by calling 281-580-8800 or emailing him right now.


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