A 25-year-old nearly lost her vision after an “aggressive” bacterial infection led her to develop an ulcer that required surgery
A 25-year-old UK woman nearly lost her vision after developing an ulcer on her eye — which doctors say was caused by her contact lenses.
Steph Carrasco was dealing with some itchiness in her eye, which prompted a visit to an eye doctor. The Cardiff woman had chalked it up to simple irritation from her daily contact lenses, according to a report in The Daily Mail.
However, her doctor discovered that Carrasco had “aggressive bacteria” in her eye which had caused her to develop an ulcer on her cornea, defined as the “clear window” in the front of your eye, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
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As it’s an open sore on your eye, a corneal ulcer is “considered a medical emergency” and can lead to vision loss and blindness, the Cleveland Clinic says.
Carrasco ended up in the hospital for a week, with 72 drops of antibiotics administered to her eye daily in an effort to reduce the size of the ulcer.
However, when the ulcer wouldn’t shrink, she had to undergo an emergency corneal transplant.
“This was a very aggressive bacteria that needed immediate treatment, so I'm pleased we got her into the hospital immediately, so the infection did not advance any further,” Optometrist Jack Brenton said, according to The Daily Mail.
About 12% of corneal transplants in the United States are due to ulcers, the Cleveland Clinic says. There are between 30,000 and 75,000 cases of corneal ulcers a year in the United States — and contact lens wearers are ten times more likely to develop one.
And if you sleep in your contacts, you’re 100 times more likely to develop a corneal ulcer.
“Wearing contacts for [a] long period blocks oxygen from reaching your eyes. Also, bacteria on the lens — transferred from your finger when inserting or from non-sterile cleaning solutions — can get trapped under your lens,” the Cleveland Clinic says.
And while most cases of corneal ulcers are caused by bacteria — as was the case with Carrasco’s ulcer — they can also be caused by fungi, parasites, and viruses, according to a report from the American Academy of Ophthalmology, which adds that no matter the cause, “when a large corneal ulcer is staring you in the face, time is not on your side.”
“I was told by the medical staff at the hospital that the bacteria in my eye was so harsh that if it had been left any longer, I would have lost my eye completely,” said Carrasco, who hopes her vision will fully return by next month.
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