This is what happens when you leave your contacts in too long

Image via Wikimedia

Today in news that will haunt your nightmares: A 23-year-old woman who left her contact lenses in for six months has reportedly been left blind. As if that’s not awful enough, here’s why: microscopic bugs ate away at her eyeballs.

We’ll give you a moment to let the horror sink in. Once you’re done clutching at your eyes and shrieking, read on…

According to a report by the Mail Online, Taiwanese university student Lian Kao left her disposable contact lenses in for six months and didn’t remove or clean them in that time – even when she was swimming or washing. Reportedly she was too busy to adhere to lens hygiene, which is scary considering the cardinal rule of owning contact lenses is knowing when to take them out and how to keep them clean.

Anyone who wears contact lenses knows the pain of leaving them in a little too long (for instance, drunkenly forgetting to remove them before falling into bed), or not disinfecting or lubricating them properly, so you can only imagine the discomfort Kao’s eyes were subjected to after a day or so, let alone months on end.

Guidelines suggest Kao should have disposed of her contacts after a month. But half a year later when medics removed the lenses, they discovered the surface of her eyes had been devoured by microscopic bugs. Leaving the contacts in for so long had created the ideal environment for Acanthamoeba to develop and breed before burrowing into the cornea and doing permanent damage.

The director of ophthalmology at Taipei’s Wan Fang Hospital, Wu Jian-liang, told the Mail Online:

“Contact lens wearers are a high-risk group that can easily be exposed to eye diseases … A shortage of oxygen can destroy the surface of the epithelial tissue, creating tiny wounds into which the bacteria can easily infect, spreading to the rest of the eye and providing a perfect breeding ground.”

Eeeek. If ever there was a good reason to take an extra few minutes a day to get your contact lens hygiene sorted, the threat of bug-eaten eyeballs would probably be it.

If this story has left you panicking and you want a quick refresher on caring for contact lenses, OPSM has a great checklist here.

Do you have a contact lens horror story?

If you’re still with us, here are more (far less terrifying) posts you might like:

How to protect your eyes from your iPhone

It may be time to say goodbye to reading glasses