Meet Jessica Greaney, the 19-year-old contact lens wearer who thought she only had a minor eye infection due to soreness and eyelid drooping that could have lead to serious damage.
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,” Greaney said.
Little did she know that there was a parasite, Acanthamoeba, living inside her eyeball. Left untreated, this parasite can cause blindness. To diagnose the problem, doctors had to scrape away a small sample of her eye tissue using a scalpel.
Four nights of not being able to sleep sounds like torture and it is. It’s really heartbreaking and hard to go through.” Jessica recalls being exhausted, losing her appetite and, as a result, her immune system was shut down due to inadequate sleep.
So, how did Greaney contract the parasite?
It is through her contact lenses! Miss Greaney has been wearing contact lenses for just two years, and had no idea that she could contract an eye parasite from normal water.
If so much as a droplet of water gets into contact with the lens, problems can occur. I got my infection by just leaving my contact lenses near my sink, in a glass of solution.
However, please don’t fall for the misconception that you can only catch the parasite if you don’t keep your lenses clean; the parasite lives in water and anyone can catch it. It’s more common for contact lens wearers to get the parasite. If you shower or swim with your lenses in, you could be trapping the parasite next to your eyeball where your eye has no way to eject it with tears.
I was really, really careful with my lenses, I’m actually quite known with my friends for being ridiculously over clean with them, but I kept my contact lenses by the sink in my room,” Greaney explained.
Fortunately, Jessica is recovering, but it’s not been an easy process. She still needs to put 20 eyedrops in her eye every day.
The story has ended favorably for Jessica, albeit after many sleepless nights and a lot of pain. However, not everyone is this lucky; some sufferers need to have corneal transplants to restore their eyesight and others go blind entirely.
I want to raise awareness about this parasite and tell people they need to be very careful with their contact lenses,” said Greaney.