AK and me: Ian West

The 65-year-old Shropshire resident wants more people to be aware of the dangers of exposing contact lenses to water after his experience

Ian West

One night around three years ago, Ian West woke in the middle of the night with a sharp pain in his eye.

The semi-retired archaeologist, who has worn contact lenses for 25 years, travelled to Moorfields Eye Hospital where tests confirmed he had Acanthamoeba keratitis.

“The pain was indescribable,” he told OT.

“I had to put my life on hold for several months. I couldn’t go out because as everyone will tell you, you are confined to a darkened room for many weeks. For six months my life was completely disrupted,” Mr West shared.

After a month, Mr West was able to read for a few minutes each day and watch a little bit of television.

After four months, the clinicians told Mr West that the infection, which was likely to be due to contact between his contact lenses and water, had cleared.

“I am one of the lucky ones,” Mr West shared.

He emphasised the importance of communicating the risks of exposing contact lenses to water.

“People don’t believe that you can contract something this serious from water,” he shared.

“Only use the products that you have been prescribed and are safe. It is as simple as that,” Mr West highlighted.

Fight for Sight has highlighted a lack of awareness among contact lens wearers around the importance of good contact lens hygiene.

OT speaks to Ian West about his experience of Acanthamoeba keratitis

A survey published by the charity in July revealed that 54% of contact lens wearers swam or showered in their contact lenses, while 47% said they had slept in their contact lenses.

The AOP has a range of contact lens resources on its website, including a patient advice leaflet for soft contact lens wearers that practitioners can download.

Image credit: Laurence Derbyshire