It can be tempting to fall asleep, take a shower, or jump into the pool with contacts in. Many people consider doing this to be no big deal, especially if they are only doing it once in awhile. However, they might not realize the incredibly serious health risks they face when they don’t take the extra couple of minutes it requires to remove their lenses. This is something that Stacey Peoples of Denver, Colorado, had to learn the hard way. Now she wants to ensure that no one else makes the same mistake she did, according to Today.
Peoples is a former educator who experienced life changing consequences after going swimming one time with her contact lenses in. She had no idea that one simple mistake would affect the way she lived her day-to-day life forever. When she went swimming without removing her contacts, she sustained an infection from a type of parasite known as acanthamoeba. It’s rare, but extremely dangerous.
In the weeks that followed, one of Peoples’ eyes became red, swollen, and itchy. At first, doctors thought it was pink eye. However, after several weeks had passed, and her condition had still not improved, they changed her diagnosis several times. At first they thought she was allergic to eye drops and later suspected that she had a scratch on her cornea.
Several months later, Peoples was completely blind in the infected eye. She was officially diagnosed with Acanthamoeba keratitis, an infection of the cornea caused by the parasite she’d come into contact with. In addition to the fear of not being able to see normally, Peoples was also dealing with excruciating agony from the infection. In an emotional interview, she recalled the pain she experienced.
“It felt like somebody was snapping a rubber band in the front of my eye every few seconds, but then at the same time, the back of the eye felt like… it was going to explode through the back of my head. The side of my face felt like a constant migraine.”
The pain was so bad that Peoples couldn’t be around light at all, as it made the pain worse. She couldn’t read, drive, work, or even watch television. It was during this low point that she contemplated suicide.
— Angela (@A_Centofanti) August 2, 2019
However, Peoples was eventually granted a cornea transplant. After a difficult healing period, she could at last see again. Now she wants the world to learn one primary lesson from her mistake; never let water touch your contacts. It takes only one drop for an infection to occur.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. For readers outside the U.S., visit Suicide.org or Befrienders Worldwide for international resources you can use to find help.