A warning for all wearers of contact lenses.
It is the stuff of nightmares.
A teenager forced to stay awake for a week to prevent a parasite from burrowing into her eyeball.
The 18-year old’s cornea being eaten away from the inside by the parasite.
It’s worse than a nightmare in fact. It’s like a horror movie.
A small worm like creature literally eating her eye away.
But in this case it’s a horror movie that should serve as a warning as it could happen to anyone who wears contact lenses.
18-year old Jessica Greaney, a student in the UK, has written about the awful ordeal for British student newspaper The Tab.
“Acanthamoeba Keratitis. To most, these words are just two unnecessarily long, hard to pronounce collections of syllables. But for others, they are the diagnosis of a potentially blinding eye infection.”
The first-year English student at the University of Nottingham got the parasite in her eye after a drop of tap water splashed on her contact lens.
She said “But, by the end of the week, my eye was bulging, and it looked like a huge red golf ball. It was swollen, and extremely painful, and they admitted me into hospital.
“I had an intensive treatment of eyedrops every ten minutes because my cornea was being eaten away from the inside by the parasite.”
She says that initially the doctors thought it was an ulcer, then herpes.
“He awkwardly asked ‘Have you recently been sexually active?’ while my mother sat less than a metre away from me – reminding me of my non-existent sex life.”
The young woman was then told the parasite came from a drop of water when she left her contact lenses near the sink in their solution.
The Telegraph reports that if untreated, the parasite can cause sight problems and paralysis or even death as it eats its way through the eye and into the spinal cord.
“They had to keep me awake for a week. It was torture – she had to hold my eye open and squirt a few droplets in.
“Even if I had managed to nod off, I could only get a couple of minutes’ sleep before I was woken again. This parasite was still eating my eye and even worse, my immune system was shutting down because of my lack of sleep.”
Jessica Greaney told The Telegraph that she had been wearing contact lenses for just two years and had no idea that she could contract an eye parasite from normal water.
“I want to raise awareness about this parasite and tell people they need to be very careful with their contact lenses.
“If so much as a droplet of water gets into contact with the lens, problems can occur.”
Jessica’s story comes just a few months after a teenager in the US almost lost her sight from the same parasite.
Florida teenager Ashley Hyde nearly went blind after she contracted an acanthamoeba infection in her left eye after failing to change her contact lenses regularly.
Jessica Greaney, who is now still recovering wants everyone to know that contact lenses need to be handled carefully.
She posted on Facebook:
Around 700,000 Australians wear contact lenses with 25 to 34-year-olds the highest users.
Jessica says she will never wear contact lenses again but she is just thankful to have retained her sight.
For more on contact lens safety visit The Glow.