A pensioner had been enjoying the trip of a lifetime when a sudden “excrutiating” infection led to him losing an eye.
Raymond Kay’s trip to Thailand turned into a nightmare after he begain feeling the sensation of a “foreign body” troubling his left eye.
Believing it may have been his contact lens, the 68-year-old took it out and gave it a good clean.
However, the uncomfortable feeling did not go away and the father-of-four was forced to visit a Thai clinic for eye drops.
When the treatment did not work, the retired plumber flew back to the UK and visited his local Specsavers branch, where staff took one look at his eye and told him to go straight to the hospital, reports The Manchester Evening News.
Following multiple eye tests, swabs, and medication – including treatment on Christmas Day – it was determined Raymond had a fungal eye infection and needed a cornea transplant.
The surgery went ahead on New Year’s Eve, and his old cornea was placed in a laboratory.
Raymond spent the next fortnight in an eye hospital where he had round-the-clock care.
But, just months later, his new cornea became loose — forcing surgeons to make a life-changing decision to remove the eye altogether.
Raymond said: “I now have a fake eye. Everything is half as good as what it used to be, but you get used to it.
“It’s hard at first because you lose your peripheral vision.
“After the surgery, I started to lose vision in my good eye too. I had to get a cataract removed.
“Now I have to have a laser because the scar tissue behind the lens is starting to fog over. It’s a constant worry for me.”
While fungal eye infections are rare, they can be very serious.
The most common way for someone to develop a fungal eye infection is the result of an eye injury, particularly if the injury was caused by plant material such as a stick or a thorn.
Fungal infections can also come from outside sources, such as vegetation that may brush against the eye.
Raymond has no idea how the fungal infection in his eye started, but he believes his 30-day contact lenses, which he began wearing in 2018, may have worsened the symptoms.
“It was excruciating pain, it was 24/7,” he added. “The eye looked like it had a white mark in the centre.”
While direct evidence to suggest contact lenses cause fungal infections is lacking, there can be a link between the two, according to Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
Fungal keratitis can occur with contact lens wear but mostly occurs in people who sustain eye injuries from agricultural or gardening accidents, ocular surface disease and those with immunosuppression.
This infection is one of the severest forms of corneal infection that can occur in contact lens wear.
To avoid infections, the NHS advises contact lens wearers to have regular check-ups with their optician, always wash and dry hands prior to handling lenses, check lenses are not inside out and apply lenses before putting on makeup.
It is advised to never use tap water to clean lenses, sleep in them or wear them while swimming or in the shower.