Pennsylvania woman contracts rare eye infection from contact lenses

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Local woman contracts rare eye infection from contact lenses: Ali Gorman reports during Action News at 5pm on August 29, 2018.

A Pennsylvania woman is battling a rare eye infection that's threatening her vision. She and doctors at Wills Eye Hospital are now warning others to protect themselves.

This happened just after she graduated college and started her career. It's a rare infection, but it's typically seen more often in the summertime and mostly to people who wear contact lenses.

It's been a difficult few months for 22-year-old Tori Gasho. Vision in her right eye is extremely blurry and she can barely open it due to light sensitivity and pain.

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"Kind of like a stabbing feeling, kind of like there's something in my eye," she said.

She was diagnosed with Acanthamoeba Keratitis, or AK.

Wills Eye Doctor Christopher Rapuano says it's a parasitic infection caused by an amoeba found in all kinds of water.

"It's all over, it's in regular tap water, pool water, the ocean, it's really all over the place," he said.

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The infection is rare, but can be serious and lead to permanent vision loss. People who wear contact lenses are the most risk, especially those who don't follow the recommended care instructions.

"Things like not cleaning contact lenses properly, sleeping in contacts is a big no, no. Swimming in contacts is a big no, no. Showering with them is not great either," said Dr. Rapuano.

He says sleeping in contacts can create microscopic scratches on the cornea that makes you susceptible to all kinds of eye infections.

It's still a long road for Tori. Dr. Rapuano says it takes months of treatment, hoping to prevent scarring and restore vision.

"Just to get my eye open and seeing a little, I hope comes about," said Tori.

The treatment is difficult as well. In the beginning, patients need eye drops every hour.

But again, this infection is rare. Most contact lens-wearers won't get it, but it's important to follow the guidelines to lower your risk.
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