Irene Ekkeshis’s eye started to itch after wearing a contact lens. She assumed that the itching would subside and that it was nothing to worry about. Unfortunately, she was wrong.
Ekkeshis woke up on Saturday morning with tears streaming down her right eye. She went to the store to grab some eye drops, and figured that would resolve her issues.
Later that evening, her pain was so bad, she wasn’t able go to her kitchen because she developed an intolerance to florescent light. Ekkeshis knew she had to go to the doctor.
She went straight to the Moorsfield Eye Hospital, where they gave her a corneal scrape, a scary procedure involving a needle removing cells from the surface of the eyeball, and she was diagnosed with an infection.
Acanthamoeba Keratitis aka “AK” was caused by micro-organisms that are commonly found in tap water, sea water and swimming pools but the majority of cases are associated with contact lenses.
Ekkeshis did not respond to the treatment by doctors, and her infection worsened to the point that she now has vision loss in that eye.
By the time she was 30 she wore daily disposable lenses, the kind you throw away each evening, and she had never had any trouble with them. But AK, in which an amoeba invades the cornea – the clear front part of the eye – turned out to be a major problem. At first, Ekkeshis was given antiseptic eye drops to take every hour. She was told that as the infection had been caught early it should be cured in a matter of weeks. But her eye didn’t respond to the treatment, and because the cornea has the highest density of pain receptors in the body, she was soon in agony. “The pain got worse as the infection developed,” she says. “At times it was unbearable and was almost impossible to control, even with the strongest painkillers.” She could not work and eventually quit her job as a travel company director. Her eye streamed for months until doctors started to get the infection under control. The pain also started to subside. But by now the cornea of her right eye was scarred, leaving her vision in this eye blurred.