A woman was left blind in one eye after a microscopic parasite latched onto her cornea while she was swimming while wearing contact lenses.
Stacey Peoples, 49, was on vacation in Michigan with her family for the Fourth of July when she contracted acanthamoeba keratitis, a rare infection in which an amoeba attacks the outer layer of the eye. She can now see again, thanks to a cornea transplant.
"My eye looked like a zombie’s,” Peoples said. “The pain was so intense. It felt like someone was snapping a rubber band against my eyeball every four or five seconds.”
Peoples said she experienced intense migraines and raced to a Michigan emergency room when she lost vision in her left eye in 2014.
“All I could see was white,” Peoples said. “The pain was so, so bad, I asked them to take my eye, but they said that they needed to do everything to save it."
The Colorado mom of four believes she contracted the infection from a local pool while she was swimming with her son during their vacation.
According to the CDC, 85 percent of acanthamoeba keratitis cases occur in contact lens users because the lenses create small abrasions in the eye, which make it easier for the amoeba to attach when the eye comes into contact with water.
Peoples was forced to take a seven-month leave from her job to fight the infection, which completely destroyed the outer layer of her eye. She was left completely blind in her left eye.
"I was prescribed eye drops which essentially contain pool cleaner to kill the parasite,” Peoples said.
She had to apply the eye drops every few hours.
Thankfully, she was able to receive a cornea transplant after the incident. In 2015, she underwent the procedure at Good Samaritan Medical Center in Colorado, and is now able to see.
“They removed my damaged cornea and replaced it,” Peoples said. “When the patch came off two days after the surgery, it was amazing."
With glasses, she has 20/20 vision in her eye. She's now warning others of the dangers of wearing contacts in water.
"This is rare but it can happen, even if you’ve been doing it for 20 years like me,” Peoples said.