A mother lost her left eye after suffering a rare infection she believes was caused by her contact lens.
Jacqui Stone endured 22 operations and more than 17 weeks in hospital after wearing a disposable lens from a popular brand.
Doctors had to remove her eye because of fears the rare but aggressive fungal infection would penetrate her optic nerve and enter her brain.
Warning: Graphic images below
Mrs Stone, 42, said: ‘They tried everything to save my eye but the fungus had grown too strong.
‘It would have killed me. I’m terrified the fungus will come back if I get ill.’
The maths teaching assistant bought the Focus Dailies All-Day Comfort Lenses from a UK website last May to help her see the whiteboard better in the classroom. The mother of two, who has worn contact lenses ‘on and off’ for 20 years, said everything seemed normal when she put the lenses in.
She added: ‘I am one of those people who doesn’t take risks – I know I washed my hands when I put them in. It wasn’t until I got home at 5pm that I thought “these feel awful” and had to take them out.
‘I threw them away as they were disposables and didn’t think any more about it at the time. But the next day I had very blurred vision out of my left eye. At the time I thought it was painful but the pain just got worse and worse.’
Too late: The mother wears a prosthetic left eye after surgeons were forced to remove the infected eyeball
Mrs Stone, of Braintree, Essex, was taken to Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford, two days later when the pain became unbearable. She was given eye drops and sent home the same day but returned less than 24 hours later after again suffering excruciating pain.
She added: ‘I was screaming in pain and my teeth were chattering – it was unbearable.
‘They told me they had given me enough morphine for a broken leg but the drugs didn’t touch it.
She was referred to Moorfields Eye Hospital in London over the Jubilee weekend but her condition continued to worsen.
By June, Mrs Stone was making almost daily visits to the hospital because of the pain.
On June 21 last year she was referred to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, where she was diagnosed with an infection caused by the fungus Fusarium.
By then it had eaten away at three layers of her eye and at 70 nerves.
She underwent 22 procedures to save her eye, including two corneal transplants, at Addenbrooke’s – but the fungus was too deep rooted.
Mrs Stone now wears a temporary prosthetic eye and will begin having one specially made next week. She is suing Alcon UK, which manufactures Focus Dailies, as well as preparing a joint case against Broomfield Hospital and Moorfields Hospital for clinical negligence.
She said: ‘What makes me angry is I now know that if I had been given the correct drops in the first couple of weeks I would still have my eye.
‘I still can’t have steroids as the fungus could be laying dormant in my body and drugs could trigger it.
‘There is also a risk of losing sight in my right eye when my left eye completely shuts down as they are connected.’
A spokesman for Alcon said: ‘Alcon is aware of a claim by a UK consumer that she experienced health-related complications from an eye infection she acquired in spring 2012 resulting in her losing one eye.
‘She is alleging that the infection was connected to her use of our contact lens.
‘Alcon was concerned to hear of this and conducted an investigation based on the evidence provided but did not find any connection between the contact lens and the consumer’s unfortunate experience.
‘Alcon is committed to promoting safe and effective contact lens wear and ensuring the safety of patients and the efficacy and integrity of all its products.’
A spokesman for Moorfields Eye Hospital said it was reviewing the care that Mrs Stone received.
They added: ‘No legal claim has yet been commenced.’
Dr Ronan Fenton, medical director at Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust, said it had worked with Mrs Stone to investigate the circumstances around the loss of her eye.
He added: ‘Not withstanding the likelihood of legal proceedings we hope this positive co-operation will continue.’