Six years ago Nick Humphreys, a 29-year-old man from the UK, made what he calls an "obvious choice" to start wearing contact lenses. But in 2018, the decision left him blind in one eye, he wrote an essay for the Shropshire Star, where he works as a reporter.
More specifically, it was the routine decision to shower with contacts in, he told PA Real Life.
"On a standard morning I'd wake up, pop my lenses in and head to the gym before work, then I'd jump in the shower before heading to the office," he said. "I thought nothing of it at the time. I was never told not to wear contact lenses in the shower, there's no warning on the packaging and my opticians never mentioned a risk."
In the essay entitled "My fight for sight: Why Star reporter Nick will never wear contact lenses again," Humphreys wrote that he first suspected things were not quite right in January 2018 when he experienced dry eyes for a week.
At first, he chalked it up to a lack of sleep and attempted to treat it with over-the-counter eye drops. This didn't work, he wrote.
Initially, his doctor diagnosed him with an ulcer on his eye. But further testing showed that it was something entirely different.
Humphreys was eventually diagnosed with Acanthamoeba keratitis (AK) in his right eye, he wrote. According to the CDC, AK is an eye infection caused by an amoeba found in water that targets the cornea. A 2009 study reported there are an estimated 1 to 2 million cases of AK among contact users annually in the US.
AK most commonly affects people who wear contacts, but anyone can contract the infection – especially if they come into contact with contaminated water, mishandle contact lenses, or have a history of corneal trauma, according to the CDC.
Humphreys was prescribed disinfectant drops to treat the infection and while it helped, it wasn't enough. In March 2018, the pain returned, he wrote in the Shropshire Star.
"I couldn't read a page of a newspaper without being in excruciating pain, light sensitivity was so bad I had to keep the curtains drawn at all times," he wrote. "I even had to watch Eurovision with my sunglasses on"
One day, he suddenly went blind in his right eye.
"I was driving to work and my vision completely went in my right eye. I don't know how I managed not to crash, but it didn't take me long to realise I needed to get back to the hospital," he wrote.
So far, he has undergone 3 operations to treat the infection and aid with the healing. In August, he will receive a corneal transplant from a donor and will also have cataract surgery, he wrote.
A year and a half after this ordeal began, Humphreys said he regrets ever wearing contacts.
"I can honestly say if I'd had the slightest idea that this was even a remote possibility I would never have worn contacts in the first place. It's crucial that people out there know this is a reality and can happen because of something as simple as showering," he wrote.
The journalist also called for manufacturers to show clearer warnings on contact packaging about AK.
"I've lost 18 months of my life because of something as simple as showering with contacts in," he wrote.
"Now contact lens makers need to put sufficient warnings on packaging to stop this preventable condition from destroying more lives."
This article was originally published by Business Insider.
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