A 21-year-old man lost his sight to a carnivorous parasite after taking a nap while wearing contact lenses.

Studies in 2018 showed that the number of infections caused by carnivorous parasites is on the rise, putting thousands of people at risk of contracting a potentially blinding infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that infection from free-living amoebas affects contact lens wearers 85% of the time. Scientists are now pushing for lenses to come with safety warnings.

Mike Krumholtz was only 21 years old when he lost his sight to a carnivorous parasite after sleeping in contact lenses.

He told the Daily Star: “I went to work and after that I took a 40-45 minute nap. My contact lenses were just very irritated, like they were floating in my eyes. I took them off and it’s no big deal.

“So the next morning I woke up, went to play baseball, and I had to take my contact lenses off right away.

“I said to my parents: “I need to go to the optometrist, something is wrong.” I thought I had conjunctivitis or something, and [the doctor] took a picture of the back of the eye after expansion – but somehow it’s not like that. ”

READ MORE: Three Vitamins That May Help Protect Against Vision Loss – Expert

Mike underwent a series of tests under the supervision of several specialists and was diagnosed with herpes simplex virus type 1.

Believing that the symptoms would eventually disappear, he was prescribed a course of antibiotics and steroids, but this did little to help.

Eventually the doctors told the student that he had Acanthamoeba keratitis.

After receiving a formal diagnosis, he underwent photodynamic therapy with conjunctival flap surgery, which involves removing the “white” of the eye and placing it over the pupil to help fight the parasite.

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The 21-year-old currently has no vision in his right eye, except for a “black-and-gray” flash comparable to television static.

He remarked, “It’s very, very strange not to see people. You don’t want people to feel sorry for you, but at the same time, you want to live like a 21-year-old college student.”

Despite Mike’s current condition, he is not eligible for an eye transplant due to his age.

He noted: “The pupil is covered – I don’t have it now, it’s not visible. It’s because the cornea is so cloudy and it’s because the ampea (parasite) has eaten so much of it.”

READ MORE: Three Vitamins That May Help Protect Against Vision Loss – Expert

In 2018, researchers at UCL and Moorfields Eye Hospital found a threefold increase in Acanthamoeba keratitis since 2011 in South East England.

The researchers who conducted the study explained that a rare infection is more likely to affect wearers of reusable contact lenses.

This is especially true for owners who use ineffective solutions and practice other poor hygiene practices.

The findings, detailed in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, explain that the condition is largely preventable.

“The most severely affected patients (a quarter of the total) have less than 25 percent of their vision or become blind after illness and face lengthy treatment,” explains Science Daily.

It added: “More than 20 percent of affected people need corneal transplants to treat disease or restore vision.”

People who use reusable contact lenses are advised to thoroughly wash and dry their hands before touching the lenses.

Moreover, it is not recommended to swim, wash or take a bath in lenses, as all this is considered a risk factor for infection.

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