Parasite on Contact Nearly Causes Teen to go Blind

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(Photo: Screen Grab, Local 10 ABC News)Ashley Hyde suffered from a serious eye infection that could have caused her to go blind.

A parasite growing on a teenager's contact lens nearly cost the girl her eyesight, but doctors were able to perform several procedures in order to save her sight. The unusual situation had doctors stumped until they realized exactly what was happening.

"Every day we see people come in with contact lens related to infections, complications, ulcers. These are all things that are potentially blinding," optometric physician Dr. Adam Clarin told "There is nothing safer or healthier than throwing out the lens every day and starting with a new one the next day."

Ashley Hyde, 18, began experiencing pain and redness in her right eye and went to several doctors. None could figure out what was troubling the teen, but her eyesight was getting worse and doctors became more confounded.

"They did multiple cultures where they scrape your eye," Hyde said. "One time, they had to drill into my eye. It was really nasty."

Finally, doctors identified an infection known as acanthamoeba, which is caused by a microscopic parasite found in water. The amoeba "found worldwide in the environment in water and soil… [and] can cause rare but severe infections of the eye, skin and central nervous system," according to the Center for Disease Control.

Hyde suffered from Acanthamoeba keratitis, which is an infection that can cause "permanent visual impairment or blindness," according to the CDC. She will have to undergo several months of treatment but is thankful to have her sight. Hyde also said she would advise contact users to never skip cleaning their lenses.

"It hurts like, oh my gosh, you can't even… I had to take so many antiobiotics," she said of her infection. "I wouldn't risk it."

Most people will not experience the infection to such a degree as Hyde, but her story has brought new awareness to eye health and hygiene for contact wearers.

"Didn't realize I was taking such a giant risk by wearing my 30-day disposables for 2-3 months at a time before disposing of them," Gawker reader Anselm posted. "My eyes never feel sore/tired/irritated and they're the type I can sleep in so I never take them out, so I never think about it until I am randomly like, 'Oh yeah, I should probably switch out for a new pair.'"

"And that's why you change your solution every day," added Dear Zeus.