Protect Your Eyes: Whitney’s Story— Keep Water Away from Contacts

By: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

You're pretty good at it. [ Music ] My name is Whitney Foreman. I am a freelance writer. I have three children, and I live in the suburbs of Chicago. About two and a half years ago, my family was getting ready to go on a spring break vacation, and I woke up one morning and my eye was just really red and irritated. I went to the doctor and they just thought I just had a little bit of the run in the mill eye infection, and that was how it all started. The first doctor prescribed treatment of steroids. It was a good and a bad thing.

I was able to go on vacation with my family but it masked the actual problem. My symptoms were progressing pretty quick, and when I ended up getting back from vacation and the steroid [inaudible] stopped working. Within a few days, I had lost the vision in my eye completely and had swelling on the side of my face and just a lot of pain, and it felt more than just an eye infection.

When I was diagnosed the doctor said I had a serious case of [inaudible] keratitis and that this was going to be a long road of recovery. I could need a cornea transplant. I could need a special lens to see again.

I might not even recover the use of my eye. So, it was a pretty startling conversation. So, it took a very long to see results. So, that was the hardest part for me. I pretty much just disengaged. I just wanted to sleep, and I would say hello to my kids in the morning and good night to them at night, and that was pretty much the extent of my world. The way we think it happened was I did shower with my lenses in and because I had a small abrasion on my eye, we think that's how I got the amoeba in my eye.

Protect Your Eyes: Whitney’s Story— Keep Water Away from Contacts

I was not aware of parasites or the bacteria issues that can happen with exposing your lenses to water. I thought it was really just you shouldn't be cleaning your lenses in water because it doesn't truly disinfect them. I was not aware of the potential problems that would happen if you could expose your lenses to water and then put them in your eye. One thing that I tell everyone that I come in contact with that is that these parasites are in the water, and even though they're not harmful to us on our everyday life, they can basically ruin your vision permanently if you are exposed to them. [ Music ].