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Charges: Eye doctor accused of aggravated assault for unlicensed surgeries

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SALT LAKE CITY — A Salt Lake eye doctor currently at the center of a multimillion-dollar lawsuit for allegedly leaving a patient blind now faces numerous criminal charges.

Paul Wade Wyatt, 52, was charged Thursday in 3rd District Court by the Utah Attorney General’s Office with seven counts of aggravated assault, a second-degree felony, and seven counts of unlawful or unprofessional conduct, a third-degree felony.

According to charging documents, Wyatt performed at least seven eye surgeries in 2018, even though his “license to perform ophthalmology surgeries in Utah has been suspended since October 2016.” Each of those surgeries left the victims with permanent or severe injuries, the charges state.

One of those patients, Robert Arias, sued Wyatt in October claiming a series of botched surgeries has left him permanently blind in his right eye. The lawsuit contends that Wyatt, a volunteer ophthalmologist, quietly made offers to undocumented patients, saying he would perform the cataract surgery at his Holladay practice, ahead of the clinic’s one- to two-year wait time. And he charged $800 — a fraction of the typical price tag.

Charging documents list other Hispanic patients who suffered similar fates in 2018:

  • A woman who “has experienced severe head and eye pain and blurry vision in the right eye” following her surgery on March 1, 2018.
  • A man who had surgery on May 8, 2018, and “experienced a black spot in his vision and damage sufficient to require a cornea transplant in his left eye.”
  • A woman who had surgery on May 10, 2018, who “suffered white, fuzzy vision in her right eye.”
  • A man who had surgery on May 26, 2018, and “the intraocular lens in (his) left eye is (now) located in front of the edge of the pupil instead of behind the iris where it should be.”
  • A woman who had surgery July 24, 2018, and “suffered extreme pain and still experiences blurriness in her left eye.”
  • A woman who had surgery on Sept. 21, 2018, “suffered a ruptured posterior capsule in her right eye as well as swelling of the cornea which caused extreme pain and cloudiness in her vision.”

Charging documents add that “the conditions under which (Wyatt) performed these surgeries fell well below medical standards in Utah.”