By Madeline Farber
Published December 04, 2018
WARNING: Graphic image below.
A Belgian woman claims she lost her right eye after a parasite got stuck behind her contact lens when she took a shower, causing her to develop a rare but serious eye infection.
Petra van Kalmthout recently told the Daily Mail the alleged incident occurred three years ago while she was on vacation. The woman said she was infected with an acanthamoeba parasite, which caused her to develop keratitis — a “rare but serious infection of the eye that can result in permanent visual impairment or blindness," according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
She didn’t have any symptoms at first. But days later, van Kalmthout said her eye “became red and painful.”
“I had a party and in the evening my eye hurt a bit. I immediately took out my contact lens. I threw it away. The next day my eye was red and was even more painful,” she told the publication.
The worsening pain led van Kalmthout to seek medical attention at Antwerp University Hospital, where doctors discovered the parasite in the “cornea of her right eye," the Daily Mail reported.
Unsuccessful attempts to remove the parasite led to the removal of van Kalmthout's eye.
Acanthamoeba keratitis is “most common in people who wear contact lenses,” according to the CDC. Those who shower and swim while wearing the corrective lenses are most at risk of contracting the infection; the acanthamoeba can be found in tap water, swimming pools and even in heating and air conditioning units, the CDC says.
The infection can cause eye pain and redness, blurred vision and a sensation of something in the eye, the health agency added.
Each year, an estimated 45 people in Belgium are infected with the parasite, according to the Daily Mail.
“When I had my eye removed it was the end of a period with pain,” she told the publication, adding she wore an eye patch for three years before she was recently fitted for a prosthetic eye.
“Now that I finally have a prosthesis I can grab life in my hands again. I will start by going a night out dancing,” she added.
As a preventative measure, the CDC recommends removing contact lenses before showering, swimming or soaking in a hot tub. Other tips contact lens users should follow can be found here.