Ashley Hyde almost lost her eye.
The 18-year-old had a rare parasite eating away at her cornea that was growing on her contact lens, Local10 reports.
The high school senior complained that her left eye was red and throbbing. Her doctors had a hard time figuring out what was wrong.
"They did multiple cultures where they scrape your eye," Hyde told the news outlet on the difficulties her doctors had with her diagnosis. "One time, they had to drill into my eye. It was really nasty."
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The microscopic parasite, Acanthamoeba, is found in water and soil and can spread to the eyes through contact lenses, cuts, skin wounds or being inhaled by the lungs, according to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention.
The infection that the parasite causes, named Acanthamoeba keratitis (AK), could lead to permanent blindness, the CDC says.
The American Optometric Association warns against using tap water when cleaning contact lenses and swimming with them, especially in fresh lakes and rivers.
In 2007 an outbreak of AK resulted in the FDA recall of Complete MoisturePlus Multi Purpose Solution. But the disease is relatively rare, with an estimated one to two cases per million contact lens users each year, the CDC reports.
Hyde has several more months of treatment to save her eye.
"It hurts," she told the news outlet, advising contact lens wearers to clean their lenses and cases thoroughly. "I wouldn't risk it."
Originally from Montreal, Zoë Mintz joined IBTimes in March 2013. A graduate from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, her writing has...