Woman left half blinded after getting infection in her eye 'from dirty make up bag'
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A woman has warned others to always clean their makeup bag after she was left partially blind.
One morning, during her trip round Australia, Laura Hawkins woke up in a hostel in Fremantle, Perth, and couldn't open one eye and in 'excruciating' pain.
The 24-year-old believes that her dirty makeup bag is the reason for why she is now partially blind in her right eye.
The day before, she had bought eyedrops after thinking she might have conjunctivitis, but her eye just got progressively worse, so Laura rushed to get medical attention at A&E.
"Throughout the day before, my eye had gotten more swollen and shut over and gunky which I knew wasn't good, and then the morning after, I just couldn't open my eye at all so I couldn't tell if I could see or not
"Even just a tiny bit of light getting in my eye would feel like a burning or stabbing pain," she said.
It was soon discovered that Laura had a bacterial infection as a result of a large ulcer on her cornea.
"It was a really, really big one and it was so painful.
"They said they had to treat it quickly because if they left it any longer, it could get way more severe and could even leave me blind," she explained.
Laura was in hospital for over a week before she finally able to return home to Bristol on 26 March.
However, she's now been left with 'really bad scarring' and doctors have recommended that she have a corneal transplant if her vision doesn't improve over the next year.
"My peripheral vision and central to the right vision in my right eye, it's now like there's a white sheet over it.
"I can't really see that well out of that eye, and especially when it's night time and there's bright lights, I just can't see. I tried driving at night and I just can't do that now," she said.
Laura believes that it was her contact lenses, combined with her dirty makeup bag, which caused her bacterial infection.
She had been keeping her lenses in her make-up bag when not wearing them and thinks that one of her contact lenses must have picked up bacteria while in the bag.
She theorised: "I'd been wearing contact lenses for a good few years before this and never had any problem but I also didn't know the risk of wearing them.
"I always cleaned my hands before and after putting the contact lenses in and I used the saline solution as you're supposed to.
"What the doctors think happened is that either I scratched my eye taking the lenses out or the contact lens itself was contaminated."
However, Laura doesn't recall scratching her eye or it hurting when she removed her lenses.
She said: "I have researched into contact lenses since and whilst it isn't common, people do get infections from their contact lenses so I think there should be more pre-warning when you get given them at your eye test as this was so bad."
Giles Edmonds, the director of Specsavers clinical services, said: "It’s important that good hygiene is always followed when handling contact lenses. You wouldn’t put something dirty into your mouth so why would you do the same with your eyes?
"[...] You need to be mindful of where you store your lens case too as it can easily pick up bacteria in its surroundings which can result in red eyes, irritation or even infection.
"For example, if you keep your lenses in a makeup bag, which is a breeding ground for bacteria, always be sure to wash your hands after opening the case and before handling your lenses. Don't forget to clean your case regularly too as advised by your optician."