Jose Goncalves of Hartford, Connecticut, doesn't have a working right eye anymore, but he does have 925,000 new dollars. The money comes from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which agreed to compensate Goncalves for a botched cataract operation during which his eye, uhhhh, blew up.
In November 2007, Goncalves, 60, went to the VA for cataract surgery—a fairly common procedure. But the resident who was treating him had "seriously inadequate" training and didn't administer the anesthetic properly, his attorney alleges:
[Attorney Christopher] Bernard said Dr. Yue Michelle Wang, the resident, incorrectly placed a needle with a local anesthetic "directly into Jose's eye instead of behind the eye as was proper. Then, failing to recognize her error, she proceeded to inject so much anesthetic, so quickly, that Jose's eye literally exploded."
Because of the accident, Goncalves suffered "excruciating pain" for months. He tried to save his eye with several subsequent operations, but those didn't work. Now he has trouble reading and doing every-day things because his working eye gets tired quickly. He also had to switch jobs.
Supposedly most of us develop cataracts or cataract-type cloudiness in our eyes when we turn 60 or so. We can try to stop the cataracts from forming if we wear more hats and quit smoking, but there are no guarantees. If the cataracts come, then the only way to get rid of them—at least today—is to undergo surgery, like Goncalves did. And if we have to undergo surgery, then we now must contemplate whether our eyes might be blown up during the procedure. Just another thing about getting older that we can look forward to, I guess.