A WOMAN has been left blind in her left eye after a parasite burrowed inside when she left her contact lenses in while showering.
The 41-year-old went to the doctors complaining she had suffered with blurry vision, eye pain and sensitivity to light for the last two months.
3 A woman's eye after being treated with a dye used to detect the parasite which had buried into her eyeCredit: nejm.org
She explained she had a habit of leaving her monthly soft, disposable lenses in while swimming or showering, according to a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The woman was barely able to keep her eye open during the examination, report authors, led by Dr Lanxing Fu, of the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital.
Noticing a cloudiness in her cornea, they used a special dye – known as fluorescein eye stain, to help detect damage to the eye’s outer covering.
The dye turns the affected areas green when shone under a blue light.
After discovering a defect in the woman’s cornea, they took samples of her eye — which tested positive for Acanthamoeba keratitis, a rare parasitic amoeba known to cause blindness.
Dr Fu said the condition is associated with contact lens wear.
Though rare, there have been a number of reported instances.
Earlier this month, a football fan was blinded in his right eye after wearing his contact lenses in the shower.
What is Acanthamoeba keratitis?
Acanthamoeba keratitis (AK) is an infection of the cornea.
The infection is caused by a parasite that is usually found in bodies of water as well as taps, swimming pools, hot tubs, soil and air.
Many different species of Acanthamoeba exist. Acanthamoeba organisms do not generally cause harm to humans (we come into contact with them when we wash, swim, drink water etc), but they can cause a serious eye disease if they infect the cornea.
Symptoms can include:
- eye pain
- eye redness (pink eye)
- watery eyes
- light sensitivity
- feeling like there's something in your eye
- blurred vision
- ring-like pattern around your cornea
To avoid Acanthamoeba keratitis, never wear your contact lenses when you're coming into contact with water.
Never wash contacts with tap water and never swim, shower or use a hot tub while wearing them.
Always clean your contacts in lens solution the moment you take them out, or use daily disposables rather than monthlies.
Nick Humphreys, 29, from Shrewsbury, Shropshire, has had to have two operations and is now waiting to have a corneal transplant after contracting a parasite burrowed into his eye.
And last week we reported how a mum-of-two from Sydney feared she'd lose her eyesight after a parasite burrowed into her eye when she went swimming in her lenses.
Meanwhile, a teenager from Cornwall, says she developed a form of chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), after she contracted the parasitic infection.
Skye Wheeler, 19, says she lives in constant fear that the bug – which is still "sleeping" in her eye – could cause her to go blind, or even kill her.
3 Nick Humphreys, 29, from Shrewsbury, Shropshire, was blinded in his right eye after wearing contact lenses in the showerCredit: PA Real Life
3 An Australian mother-of-two struck down by a parasite was told she would never see out of her left eye againCredit: Seven News/Channel 7
In this recent case, the woman tested 20/200 in her left eye, making her “legally blind”.
She was given medication to treat the infection but sadly never regained her vision due to her scarred cornea.
The woman later underwent a partial corneal transplant, which improved her eyesight slightly and thre report says she is no longer in pain.
The Acanthamoeba infection often travels through undistilled water, soil and even air.
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Those who use contacts put themselves at risk if they don’t take proper precautions — by removing the lenses before swimming and showering, or using tap water to clean them.
According to a poll by YouGov for the sight charity, 56 per cent of contact lense wearers wear their contacts for longer than the recommended 12 hours a day, with 54 per cent saying they'd swum or showered in them.
Meanwhile, 47 per cent said they had slept with contacts in, and 15 per cent said they'd put their contacts in their mouth to "clean" or lubricate them.
Contact lenses could soon pick up health issues and ‘tell’ you about them