A New Hampshire jury this month awarded $5 million to a woman after several procedures by her ophthalmologist left her legally blind. The woman had been a patient of this physician for a period of eight years. She was being treated for age-related macular degeneration, a condition that usually responds well to treatment, though it can reduce the quality of a person’s vision.
Following steroid injections, the patient lost much of her vision in her left eye. Then, after she lost vision in her right eye, the right eye had to be surgically removed because it had shrunken significantly as the result of the treatments that had failed. A glass eye was inserted in its place. The lawsuit alleged that the physician injected the right eye with a steroid that was too aggressive and rapidly led to glaucoma, pain and ultimately blindness and the removal of the eye. Because this patient also had a history of glaucoma, the use of a steroid for early, age-related macular degeneration was alleged to be in violation of acceptable medical care. The complaint also alleged that this particular physician did not have the appropriate training to be performing these procedures.
The jury’s verdict included an award of nearly $4.7 million to the woman for her pain, suffering, mental anguish and future medical needs, and $350,000 to her husband for loss of companionship.