WARNING: CONTAINS DISTRESSING IMAGERY
Taking out your contacts before you shower is a pain in the backside, sure, but anyone who wears them knows just how important it is. Well, I say everyone...one bloke from Shropshire has learned that lesson very much the hard way.
Nick Humphreys, 29, from Shrewsbury, has been blinded in his right eye and must now have a corneal transplant after a parasite managed to find its way into his eye. Nick was told by his doctors that it was wearing his contacts in the shower that allowed the parasite to burrow its way in.
Nick after the incident. Credit: PA Real Life
"I thought nothing of it at the time," he said. "I was never told not to wear contact lenses in the shower, there's no warning on the packaging and my opticians never mentioned a risk.
"The doctors said they couldn't be sure what was happening until they had the test results back, but that they thought it might be Acanthamoeba keratitis (AK)."
AK is a water-borne parasite that can be passed through water into the eye.
Nick continued: "I'd never heard of the infection before, but as soon as I got home I turned to Dr Google and was suddenly left thinking I was going to have my right eyeball removed."
In March 2018, things got a lot worse, when Nick suddenly went blind in one eye.
"I was driving to work and my vision completely went in my right eye," he said. "I don't know how I managed not to crash, but it didn't take me long to realise I needed to get back to the hospital.
"I love my job but I physically couldn't be outside the house. The pain in my eye was too much and the only time I would leave was to visit the hospital. I felt at my absolute lowest and the one thing that would cheer me up - playing football - was no longer an option."
Nick said he would never have worn contacts, had he known this was a possibility. Credit: PA Real Life
Nick, who is working with added: "Obviously, I didn't want to be blind in my right eye, but at least, knowing the infection had gone, I could start to get my life back on track. I could finally return to work and start to hit the gym."
Exercise had been everything to Nick, and had actually been the reason behind him getting contacts in the first place.
"In my mid-twenties I really started to throw myself into exercise and at the time I thought my glasses were a massive hindrance," he said.
"When I finally got over my fear of putting contacts in, I thought they were the best thing ever. On a standard morning I'd wake up, pop my lenses in and head to the gym before work, then I'd jump in the shower before heading to the office.
"I can honestly say if I'd had the slightest idea that this was even a remote possibility I would never have worn contacts in the first place. It's crucial that people out there know this is a reality and it can happen because of something as simple as getting in the shower."
"I've lost 18 months of my life because of something as simple as showering with contacts in. If I get my sight back I'll never wear contacts again."
Nick is working with charity Fight For Sight to raise awareness of the need for both proper contact lens care, and clearer information on packaging concerning the risks of exposing lenses to water.
Featured Image Credit: PA Real Life