A British grandma has been partially blinded by a dangerous amoeba that worked its way under her reusable contact lens during a shower and ate away her left eye, a report says.
“I struggle sometimes because my vision on my left side is garbage, well it’s not there,” Marie Mason, 54, told the South West News Service.
Mason, who has now lost her left eye, first noticed something was wrong in 2015 after feeling like something was permanently stuck to her cornea.
From then on, her eyesight began to deteriorate, prompting the frightened woman to report to the optometrist, after which she was referred to doctors to see what was wrong.
There, medics discovered that Mason’s eye was infiltrated by Acanthamoeba keratitis, a rare but contagious microorganism that can cause the sufferer to lose sight, the CDC said.
Mason was using her reusable contact lenses in the shower — which experts warn against — when the amoeba got between the lens and her eye, the report said.
Over time, the metastatic organism fed on Mason’s eye, causing her vision to deteriorate dramatically.
After failing to eradicate the intruder with various drugs and multiple corneal transplants, Mason was left with no choice but to have her eye removed.
Needless to say, the fact that she has only one eye put a great deal of damper on the patient, who says her limited vision hinders everyday tasks.
“It’s pretty hard to walk down the street when people are rushing past you, and you jump a little bit because you don’t expect it,” Mason said. She added that she “quit riding pretty early on because I wasn’t comfortable with it and I don’t have the confidence to go back there.”
To relieve her symptoms, the patient had to endure grueling medication and frequent hospital visits.
“There was just a lot of hospital visits, a lot of eye drops, a lot of surgeries and procedures and a lot of pain,” lamented Mason, who had to go to the hospital up to three times a week to have her eye checked.
The grandmother-of-one said she ended up quitting her job as a kitchen hand because she “has to put eye drops in every half hour so it just doesn’t work because it’s so painful.”
“I’ve also had eye injuries a lot from flaring up, so with all the times I’ve had to go to the hospital, I wouldn’t have been able to go to work because it wouldn’t have been worth it anyway,” Mason added.
Despite the obstacles, Mason has managed to maintain a semblance of normal life. She now works as an administrative assistant for her husband Jonathan, 50, and also volunteers with the local church.
“My life is fine now, I haven’t gone back to where I left work but I’m working for my husband now,” said the brave patient. “I’m also very involved in the church, where I do a lot of volunteer work, so my life has changed, but it’s a beautiful change and it’s different.”
The embattled girl is using her eye trial to try to convince contact lens manufacturers to put contamination warnings on their products. “Wear contact lenses, that’s absolutely fine, but you just have to be careful – it’s mostly the water,” she said. “I just wish manufacturers would put more warnings about water and contact lenses on the packaging. I just don’t want anyone else to really go through this.”
Mason isn’t the first to lose her sight from Acanthamoeba keratitis. In a similar case in 2019, an unfortunate 41-year-old woman in the UK became blind in her left eye after contracting the parasite from swimming and showering with her contact lenses on.
In view of the frequent infections, scientists are now warning of the dangers of wearing long-term contact lenses. In fact, a recent study by British scientists found that people who wear multi-purpose lenses are almost four times more likely to develop a corneal infection that leads to blindness than people who wear single-use lenses.