Teen nearly goes blind from eye-eating parasite on contact lens

March 27, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A high school senior in South Florida nearly lost her vision after a parasite grew on her contact lens and began eating through her cornea.

One of Ashley Hyde's eyes was red and throbbing but doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong.

"They did multiple cultures where they scrape your eye," she said. "One time, they had to drill into my eye. It was really nasty."

Doctors discovered Hyde, 18, had an acanthamoeba infection. Acanthamoeba is a microscopic parasite found in water and soil that can spread through contact lens use, cuts, or skin wounds or by being inhaled into the lungs.

"Every day, we see people come in with contact lens related to infections, complications, ulcers," said Dr. Adam Clarin, an optometric physician. "There are all things that are potentially blinding."

Clarin recommends patients use disposable contacts for daily use.

"There is nothing safer or healthier than throwing out the lens every day and starting with a new one the next day," added Clarin.

Zak Mann uses disposable contacts after years of having red, itchy, and dry eyes with traditional contact lenses.

"I love the disposable contacts because every day you start with a fresh, sterile set of contacts," he said.

Hyde must undergo several more months of treatment and advises contact users never skip a step when cleaning their lenses.

"It hurts," she said. "I wouldn't risk it."

ABC affiliate Local10.com contributed to this report.


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