Laser vision correction, commonly known as laser eye surgery, has been a popular medical procedure for decades. Every year, hundreds of thousands of Canadians turn to laser vision correction as a supposedly safe, quick, and easy alternative to glasses and contacts.

While laser vision correction is generally considered a safe procedure, it can have serious, even catastrophic, consequences that can severely impact your life. In this blog, we will look at what laser vision correction is, the risk of corneal neuralgia, and how a Toronto laser eye surgery lawyer can help you.

What is Laser Vision Correction?

Laser vision correction refers to a group of surgical procedures aimed at reducing or eliminating the dependence on glasses or contact lenses for individuals with refractive errors such as nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), and astigmatism.

Popular laser vision correction procedures include:

All three procedures are types of “refractive” eye surgery and involve changing the cornea’s shape through a laser.

LASIK and PRK have been on the market since the 1990s. SMILE was approved by Health Canada in 2015 and is currently Canada’s most popular laser vision correction procedure.

While laser vision correction is marketed as safe, effective, and minimally invasive, it is not without its risks. Some of these risks are minor and/or temporary, such as dry eyes, increased light sensitivity, or seeing glare and halos. Some risks, however, are severe and even catastrophic.

What is Corneal Neuralgia?

One rare but extremely serious risk of laser vision correction is “corneal neuralgia,” sometimes referred to as neuropathic corneal pain.

The cornea is richly innervated with sensory nerves and is the most potent pain generator in the human body. This is why something as harmless as a detached eyelash can cause considerable discomfort.

The corneal nerves are severed during a laser vision correction procedure such as SMILE. While the majority of patients heal without major issues, in some cases, the severed corneal nerves become dysfunctional and cause severe eye pain, burning, stinging, and dryness in response to otherwise non-painful stimuli. Corneal neuralgia can be life-altering and debilitating and has tragically led to multiple documented cases of suicide.

While corneal neuralgia is a known risk of SMILE, LASIK, and PRK, patients are not always informed of this risk by their doctors. The ophthalmologist performing the procedure may downplay the risk of corneal neuralgia (for instance, failing to disclose its severity) or may fail to disclose the risk of corneal neuralgia at all. In such cases, a patient who undergoes laser vision correction may have done so without giving “informed consent.”

human eye scaled

Informed Consent

Physicians are professionally and legally obligated to provide their patients with all the material information they need to consider a proposed treatment. As a matter of law, doctors must, without being questioned, disclose “the nature of the proposed operation, its gravity, any material risks and any special or unusual risks attendant upon the performance of the operation.”

In Ontario, the Health Care Consent Act codifies the duty to obtain informed consent, which imposes a legal duty on doctors to obtain consent before treating a patient. The Health Care Consent Act specifies that consent to treatment is only “informed” if the patient is told about:

  • the nature of the treatment;
  • the expected benefits of the treatment;
  • the material risks of the treatment;
  • the material side effects of the treatment;
  • alternative courses of action; and
  • the likely consequences of not having the treatment.

After establishing that the doctor failed to disclose material information, the patient must demonstrate, on a balance of probabilities (that is more likely than not), that they would not have gone ahead with the procedure or treatment. In so doing, the court will consider what a reasonable person in the patient’s position would have done.

Therefore, to be successful in a medical malpractice case relating to corneal neuralgia, the patient must establish the following:

corneal neuralgia is a material risk of SMILE, LASIK, or PRK, as applicable;

the ophthalmologist failed to disclose the risk of corneal neuralgia and

if the risk had been disclosed, a reasonable person in the patient’s position would not have proceeded with the laser vision correction procedure.

How Can Beyond Law Help You?

Beyond Law is currently handling multiple corneal neuralgia cases resulting from laser vision correction procedures. We offer free, no-obligation consultation sessions to discuss your legal options, identify potential paths to compensation and help you understand the law and your rights as a laser vision correction injury victim.

If you or someone you know has been afflicted by corneal neuralgia, don’t hesitate to reach out to the personal injury lawyers at Beyond Law right away. We recognize the urgency of the situation, and the sooner you seek legal counsel, the better we can safeguard your rights while memories and evidence remain fresh.

We deeply empathize with the emotional, physical, and financial toll severe personal injuries take on victims and their loved ones. Our commitment is to work alongside you, alleviating as much of your stress as possible allowing you the time and energy needed for your recovery.

In the aftermath of a personal injury, the choice of legal representation is critical. At Beyond Law, we prioritize transparency, open communication, and tangible results. Our personal injury lawyers are dedicated to taking on your case, vigorously defending your interests, and pursuing the compensation you deserve. Dealing with insurance companies can be a prolonged and intricate process, often involving adjusters attempting to minimize or dismiss your claim.

Rejecting a one-size-fits-all approach to legal service, we acknowledge the unique nature of each client and case. Drawing from our extensive experience, in-depth legal knowledge, and a creative approach, we tailor our strategy to fit your specific circumstances. We tirelessly work to build a compelling case on your behalf to obtain the compensation you deserve to help you rebuild your life.

Although we are physically based in Toronto, we happily represent clients all over the province. Wherever you live in Ontario, Beyond Law is here to help in your time of need.

FAQs About Corneal Neuralgia

You are far more likely to receive a favourable financial settlement by working with a Toronto LASIK lawyer or Toronto SMILE lawyer than you would otherwise.  Beyond Law is currently handling multiple corneal neuralgia cases resulting from laser vision correction procedures, and you can benefit from our experience in those other cases.

We operate on a contingency fee basis. This means we only get paid once and if we successfully obtain your compensation. Our fee model is designed to alleviate the financial hardship and stress experienced by our clients, many of whom cannot work due to illness or injury. The fee our personal injury law firm charges at the end of your case is based upon a percentage of the amount achieved.

While every case is different, in our experience, the typical medical malpractice lawsuit resolves within five years (and possibly longer if the case goes to trial). You will want to hire a lawyer you are comfortable with – one that is open, approachable, easy to talk to, available for your questions, and straightforward in their answers. Effective communication with your lawyer ensures you have the information you need to understand the process and make informed decisions about your case. This is especially true during settlement discussions or negotiations.

Each case has a unique set of facts. During the initial free, no-obligation consultation, the medical malpractice lawyers at Beyond Law can review your case’s facts and provide guidance. As your case progresses, investigations are conducted, and evidence is exchanged between the parties. Any of these factors can change our assessment of a case, which is why it is of utmost importance to hire a SMILE lawyer or LASIK lawyer that you can trust.

About the Authors

  • Josh Nisker

    Josh is a founding partner of Beyond Law. He is recognized as one of the Top Lawyers in Toronto by Post City Magazines. He strives to build and maintain trust with his clients by being attentive, responsive and honest at all times. He also frequently mentors other practicing lawyers through the Law Society of Ontario.

  • Kate Mazzucco

    Kate is the co-founder of Beyond Law who has more than 15 years of experience in personal injury law. She believes that every client is unique and so are their losses and needs. Therefore, she represents every client with a personalized approach tailored to them as an individual.