Medical breakthrough could cure common forms of blindness
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A grandmother of one is calling for better warnings over contamination risks while wearing contact lenses after an infection caused her to lose her left eye. Marie Mason believes manufacturers should advise against the use of contact lenses in certain settings that could make the eyes vulnerable to infection.
The 54-year-old said: “Wear contact lenses, that’s absolutely fine, but you’ve just got to be careful – it’s the water thing more than anything.
“I would just like the manufacturers to put more warning on the packaging about water and contact lenses.”
Marie was forced to use an eye after contracting an infection in the shower from getting water trapped under her contact lens.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines Acanthamoeba keratitis as a rare but serious eye infection that can lead to permanent visual impairment or blindness.
Acanthamoeba is a single-celled living organism which produces symptoms like redness, blurred vision and pain when it enters the eye.
It may also cause a sensation that something is inside the eye, which is what tipped off Marie to the fact that something was wrong.
The infection was contracted in 2015 after water is believed to have got trapped between her contact lenses and cornea.
Marie wore extended-wear contact lenses at the time, which are permeable to oxygen and can be worn for up to 30 days straight.
The grandmother of one first noticed something was wrong after her infection failed to clear up, which allowed the infection to multiply.
It wasn’t until her vision began to deteriorate that she was rushed to the hospital for emergency care.
Five years of subsequent treatment proved unsuccessful in curing the infection, which eventually led to the removal of the affected eye.
Marie explained: “I had to stop work because at the time I worked in a kitchen in a school and I was having to put eyedrops in a kitchen in a school, […] every half an hour so it just wasn’t going to work because it’s so painful.
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“I also had to go to the hospital two to three times a week, and sometimes even more.”
According to the Cleveland Clinic, once an amoeba enters the eye it eats through the layers of your cornea.”It destroys tissue as it moves through your eye,” adds the health body.
Though the organism is found in natural bodies of water such as lakes and oceans, it can also come from freshwater sources, including tap water, swimming pools, hot tubs, showers and sewage systems.
Anyone can contract the infection, but the CDC states it is most common in people who wear lenses.
Contact lens wearers can get infected by:
- Storing and handling lenses improperly
- Coming into contact with contaminated water
- Having a history of trauma to the cornea.
The Cleveland Clinic states that only one to two per million people who wear contact lenses develop the infection each year.
Caught early, it can be treated with a range of medicines like topical antiseptics or antibiotics.
However, people may need “surgery for advanced acanthamoeba keratitis that doesn’t improve with topical therapy”, adds the health body.
Marie admitted she still struggles since undergoing eye removal surgery, adding: “It’s quite hard walking down the street when you’ve got people whizzing by you, and it makes you jump because you don’t expect it.”
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