- Serious eye ulcer caused by ‘aggressive bacteria’ was caught just in time
- 25-year-old almost lost her eye, but expert say corneal transplant saved her sight
A woman nearly lost her sight after what she dismissed as itchy contact lenses turned out to be an ulcer on her eye.
Steph Carrasco, 25, from Cardiff, thought her itchy eye was just an irritation from her regular contact lenses.
But after a visit to the opticians to inspect her eye, the recruitment consultant discovered it was actually an ulcer caused by an ‘aggressive bacteria’.
The ulcer was so severe she needed a transplant operation for a new cornea to save her eye.
Steph Carrasco, 25, from Cardiff thought her itchy eye was just an irritation from her regular contact lenses. ‘Terrified’ and ‘barely’ able to see, Steph Carrasco was sent straight to a specialist eye hospital
‘Terrified’ and ‘barely’ able to see, Ms Carrasco was sent straight to a specialist eye hospital.
She spent a week in hospital where medical staff tried to reduce the size of the ulcer, which involved administering 72 eye drops a day.
A corneal ulcer is an open sore on your cornea, which is the layer over the coloured part of your eye.
Most ulcers are very serious and can cause permanent sight loss through scarring, but usually they can be treated with antibiotic or antifungal eye drops, the NHS says.
What is a corneal ulcer and what are the symptoms?
A corneal ulcer is an open sore on your cornea, the thin clear layer over your iris (the coloured part of your eye). It’s also known as keratitis.
There are various kind of ulcers but they can all have similar symptoms.
A corneal ulcer can cause:
- Severe pain
- The feeling that something is in your eye
- Tears Pus or thick discharge from your eye
- Blurry vision
- Pain when looking at bright lights
- Swollen eyelids
- A round white spot on your cornea
If you get any of these symptoms you should seek attention, either via a local optometrist/optician or contacting NHS 111
However, Ms Carrasco’s ulcer would not heal, with antibacterial drops leaving medics with no choice but to perform a cornea transplant to save her sight.
Three weeks later, her vision has improved, and it is hoped it will return in full by October.
When her vision returns, she will be able to go back to work.
People who wear contact lenses are more likely to get corneal ulcers. That risk is 10 time higher if you wear them overnight, the NHS says.
It can be caused by bacteria on the lenses or in the cleaning solution which can get trapped under the lenses.
Scratches on the edge of the lenses can also scrape the cornea leaving it open to bacterial infections.
Ms Carrasco said: ‘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.’
She now feels ‘incredibly lucky’ and said the ordeal has taught her to never take her ‘vision for granted’.
Optometrist Jack Brenton, who works at Specsavers Cardiff Queen Street, said: ‘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.
‘During National Eye Health Week, we are reminding everyone of the importance of having a sight test every two years at a minimum – and seeking advice from an optometrist immediately if you have concerns about your eyes or vision.
‘Fortunately, Steph is already on the road to recovery, and we hope her vision will be back to normal within a month, but her story is a case-in-point of why a rapid medical assessment is so crucial.’