A pensioner who went blind in one eye after his GP failed to spot the signs of glaucoma has been awarded a £160,000 payout.
Ron Priestley was told he had conjunctivitis on four visits to see his doctor despite complaining of blurred vision, headaches and pain around his eyes.
Over three weeks the 74-year-old, from Audenshaw, Tameside, was repeatedly prescribed only eye drops and ointment.
He was eventually referred to the Royal Oldham Hospital’s eye clinic where he was diagnosed with the condition which affects vision and is caused by a build-up of pressure in the eye.
Despite several procedures, he is now blind in his right eye and also has reduced vision in his left.
Mr Priestley’s nightmare started in October 2010 when he fell off a faulty seat at Tameside Magistrates’ Court where he was working as an usher.
He was checked over at hospital and sent home, but began to experience pain in his right eye socket and blurred vision so two days later made an appointment to see his GP.
He said: “I described the blurred vision and the pain I was having across my forehead and my eyes.
“I wish now that I'd gone back to A&E who would've referred me to an eye specialist straight away.
“The GP should’ve sent me to the eye hospital. Had they done that on the first visit they would have been able to do something for me before it was too late.”
Mr Priestley was diagnosed with acute angle-closure glaucoma, triggered by his fall, which develops quickly with a sudden, painful build-up of pressure in the eye. Vision gets worse over time and damage cannot be repaired so early diagnosis and treatment is vital.
While struggling to adapt to his disability, he was dealt a further, devastating blow in 2012 with the sudden death of wife Arlene to whom he had been married for almost 40 years.
He added: “It has been a terrible time. I never want to go back there again.
“We trust doctors implicitly, we are at their mercy, but I feel I was let down.
“I feel vulnerable now if I’m on my own outside, especially in the dark.
“Reading has always been a favourite hobby, but now I can only read for short periods as I soon get tired.
“I just want other people to be aware of the signs. You can’t take chances with your sight.”
Charlotte Moore, a clinical negligence specialist at law firm Slater and Gordon, represented Mr Priestley in a civil action against the GP who initially denied failings, but later admitted liability and recently settled the case for £160,000. The Ministry of Justice also paid a further £4,000 for failing to repair the faulty seat which led to his fall.
She said: “An earlier referral to an eye specialist would have saved Mr Priestley’s sight, but unfortunately he now has to live with the devastating consequences of his GP’s mistake.
“While nothing can change that, it is of some comfort that he has now got justice and the means to make life a little more comfortable in the future.”