A British man who lost his eye after a rare infection last year is sharing his story so people be more aware of the risks of wearing contact lenses.

Andrew Carthew, 59, told several newspapers that he wore contact lenses for years, always being very careful when handling the lens, respecting hygiene rules.

In June 2015, he woke up one morning feeling his eye becoming watery and irritated. At first he thought it’s conjunctivitis, a common and treatable eye infection. But then, within a couple of days, the pain and the sensibility to light got worse and he ended up at the emergency room.

The doctors concluded that they are dealing with a case of acanthamoeba keratitis, a rare disease in which amoebae invade the cornea of the eye, causing vision loss or blindness if untreated.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the symptoms of acanthamoeba keratitis are very similar to other infections, can last for weeks and months, and may include:

  • Eye pain
  • Eye redness
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sensation of something in the eye
  • Excessive tearing

Antibiotics didn’t helped in Carthew’s case, so the doctors performed a corneal transplant which didn’t helped either because of the severe infection. In November 2015 the doctors had to remove his eye.

“I think it’s made people very aware of how to clean them properly. I never swam in them or showered in them or slept in them and I never washed them in tap water, which is all the things that you shouldn’t do. I must have had a contaminated finger and rubbed my eye or put them in with a contaminated finger and the bacteria harboured in this case. We want people to be more aware of sight loss, as we all take it for granted really” , he told to Bristol Post.

According to the CDC, as a contact lens wearer you should:

  • Wash your hands with water and soap and dry them before touching the lens.
  • Don’t sleep in your contacts.
  • Keep water away from the lens: don’t clean them with water, remove them before showering/swimming.
  • Replace your contact lens case at least once every three months.
  • Don’t share contacts.
  • Keep your lenses clean using only the contact lens disinfecting solution.
  • Buy your lenses only from trusted sources.
  • Visit your doctor every year.
  • Don’t overwear your contact lenses.

In developed countries the number of cases of infection with acanthamoeba keratitis is approximately one to 33 cases per million contact lens wearers.

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