Treatment delays lead to blindness in glaucoma patients

An investigation by the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) has found that people with glaucoma are regularly at risk of going blind because NHS eyesight services have “inadequate capacity” to follow up such patients properly after diagnosis.

The report warned that an estimated 22 patients a month are suffering severe or permanent loss of sight because of long delays in getting follow-up appointments.

One shocking example was a 34-year-old woman who went blind due to the delays she experienced in seeing specialists over the course of 11 months. The woman was awarded £3.2m by the NHS last year as compensation for the life-changing consequences of the delays in her treatment.

Keith Conradi, the HSIB’s chief investigator, said: “Glaucoma is the world’s leading cause of irreversible blindness. We know that delay to appointments once patients are diagnosed exacerbates the risk of sight loss in patients across England.

“Our case highlighted the devastating impact. Our patient has suffered immeasurably, living with the effects each day, including not being able to see the faces of her young children or read books to them.”

Full story in The Guardian, 9 January 2020