AN EDINBURGH woman has been left blind in one eye after a parasite burrowed into her eyeball.
Charlotte Clarkson was left in agony after contracting Acanthamoeba keratitis while working at a summer camp in Canada in 2018.
The painful condition is often caused by swimming or showering with contact lenses in, as it enables the transfer of the tap water-borne Acanthamoeba parasite.
The 24-year-old was still suffering with pain and swelling by the time she returned home to Edinburgh and one day woke up unable to see out of her right eye.
A scrape of the area revealed she had contracted the infection, which causes severe pain, loss of vision and extreme light sensitivity.
Charlotte said: “It was a very lonely and isolating time for me. I was bed-ridden but I couldn’t even watch a movie or read a book because the world was literally too bright for me.
“My friends would message me but I couldn’t even look at the phone because I was constantly lying in bed holding icepacks to my face to try and numb the pain.”
Following hospital treatment, Charlotte now manages her conditions with daily drops and in the last year she has been able to return to relatively normal life.
She added: “I still can’t see in my right eye and to regain my vision I would need to have a corneal transplant, which I don’t think I want to do because I want to travel again in the future.
“At the moment my left eye has taken over and I’ve adapted really well, so right now I don’t want to risk it getting worse again.”
Charlotte has recently joined eye research charity Fight for Sight to raise awareness of the dangers of poor contact lens habits.
Director of Engagement at Fight for Sight, Sarah Campion, said: “Acanthamoeba keratitis can have serious consequences and even result in blindness, and our research has shown that cases are on the increase, so it’s vital that people practice good contact lens habits.
“People who wear contact lenses need to make sure they thoroughly wash and dry their hands before handling them, and should never wear them while swimming, face washing or bathing.”