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Hinckley grandmother: 'Life-changing holiday bug has left me without sight'

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A grandmother has lost the sight in one of her eyes after picking up a bug while on holiday.

Sally Hassell, of Hinckley, may have to have her left eye removed after getting bacteria stuck under her contact lens.

The 50-year-old believes she caught the acanthamoeba bug in a swimming pool in Turkey.

At first, she thought she was suffering from conjunctivitis and it was only during a visit to her optician after the holiday that she discovered it was far more serious.

Staff at Specsavers, in Hinckley, immediately referred her to Leicester Royal Infirmary, where she is now being treated by specialists.

Sally said: "My life's completely changed. I can't do anything for myself and I've had to give up work.

"I can't be in sunlight. I have to have everything done for me. I have to take four different drops every hour, I'm on steroids, pain-killers, anti-rejection drugs, and I've had two operations to take biopsies from my eye.

"The pain can be excruciating at times and concentrating on anything is extremely difficult. I'm lucky I have such a supportive family looking after me.

"I can't imagine what it would be like without my family by my side."

Sally had taken the five-star holiday to Turkey in October with her partner, Richard, daughter, Laura, and grandson, Samuel, two.

The bug she contracted can be found in any water source, but she believes her problems started shortly after taking a dip in her hotel's pool.

Sally and Richard had been planning to get married, with a honeymoon in Thailand, but she says this is not possible now.

She is speaking out about her ordeal to warn others of the potential dangers of wearing contact lenses.

"I wouldn't want anyone to go through what's happened to me," she said.

"I wear monthly disposable lenses and none of the packaging has warned me about potential infections.

"I want all packaging to include it from now on – no matter how small the risk, it should say there are risks associated."

Sally has been told she may be able to have a corneal transplant, but there is a risk that the infection could return. She said: "As a last resort, doctors say I could lose my eye, but I feel like I'm living with a sentence now and would almost rather lose it and get a prosthesis so that I can try to get my life back – pain free.

"Otherwise, I'll be on anti-rejection drugs for the rest of my life and there are serious risks involved with that."

Consultant ophthalmologist Jeremy Prydal, who is treating Sally, said: "Eye infections related to wearing contact lenses are fairly common, but the majority can be easily treated.

"However, the acanthamoeba bug, which is quite rare, is difficult to eradicate once it's been picked up. My advice would be never to sleep in contact lenses or swim in them, wash hands carefully before handling and only use lens solution, not tap water, to clean them."

Dr Prydal's advice was reiterated by the British Contact Lens Association (BCLA).

BCLA president Catharine Chisholm said: "This particular bug hits about one in 30,000 wearers, so is very rare.

"However, we're lobbying manufacturers to include warnings and have created labels for practitioners to use which warn against using tap water as a cleaning fluid."

Hinckley grandmother: 'Life-changing holiday bug has left me without sight'


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