- Serious eye ulcer caused by ‘aggressive bacteria’ detected just in time
- 25-year-old almost lost her eye, but expert says corneal transplant saved her sight
A woman nearly lost her sight after what she said were itchy contact lenses turned out to be an ulcer in her eye.
Steph Carrasco, 25, from Cardiff, thought her itchy eyes were simply irritation caused by her regular contact lenses.
But after a visit to the optician to inspect his eye, the recruitment consultant discovered it was actually an ulcer caused by “aggressive bacteria”.
The ulcer was so severe that she had to have a cornea transplant to save her eye.
Steph Carrasco, 25, from Cardiff, thought her itchy eyes were simply irritation caused by 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 the cornea, which is the layer covering the colored part of your eye.
Most ulcers are very serious and can cause permanent vision loss through scarring, but they can usually be treated with antibiotic or antifungal eye drops, says the NHS.
What is a corneal ulcer and what are the symptoms?
A corneal ulcer is an open sore on your cornea, the thin, transparent layer covering your iris (the colored part of your eye). It is also known as keratitis.
There are different types of ulcers, but they can all have similar symptoms.
A corneal ulcer can cause:
- Severe pain
- The feeling that there’s something in your eyes
- 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 experience any of these symptoms you should see a local optometrist/optician or contact NHS 111.
However, Ms Carrasco’s ulcer was not healing, with antibacterial drops leaving doctors with no choice but to carry out a corneal transplant to save her sight.
Three weeks later, his vision has improved and it is hoped that it will be back to full strength by October.
When her vision returns, she will be able to return to work.
People who wear contact lenses are more likely to get corneal ulcers. This risk is 10 times higher if you wear them overnight, according to the NHS.
This can be caused by bacteria on the lenses or in the cleaning solution that can get trapped under the lenses.
Scratches on the edge of the lenses can also scratch the cornea, leaving it open to bacterial infections.
Ms Carrasco said: ‘The medical staff at the hospital told me the bacteria in my eye was so aggressive that if it had stayed any longer I would have lost my eye completely.’
She now feels “incredibly lucky” and says 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 required immediate treatment, so I’m glad we took her to hospital straight away, so that the infection has not progressed further.
“During National Eye Health Week, we’re reminding everyone of the importance of getting an eye exam at least every two years – and seeking advice from an optometrist straight away if you have any concerns about your eyes or vision .
“Thankfully, Steph is already on the road to recovery and we hope her vision will return to normal within a month, but her story perfectly illustrates why prompt medical evaluation is so crucial.”