Now just to be clear this isn't a lecture this is an experience we went through recently that will forever be a lesson to us and anyone we know who wears contacts.
Laura and I both wear contact lenses. We have both over worn contact lenses. We've slept with them in, gone days without taking them out and never quite known when our month runs out for our monthly. In all honesty we broken all the rules.
Or should I say we did we in the past.
Earlier this year I had an eye infection that would not ease up. I took my contacts out and wore glasses for over week and nothing eased it. It wasn't until I got medicated eye drops and had another week wearing glasses that things started to improve. It scared me enough to make sure I take my contacts out every night and thoroughly wash the container. Thankfully I haven't suffered since.
Then I came across this article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-5033087/Why-NEVER-wear-contact-lenses-shower.html and it scared the life out of me so much that I forwarded it to Laura. Now the content of this is unpleasant! And I'm not sure how you shower without contacts if you are blind....I mean leg shaving requires sight! Nevertheless it is worth a read.
Anyway the article prompted an immediate reaction from Laura and her contacts that had been in for a week came out that evening.
A week of wearing glasses and Laura was ready to get her contacts back in - anyone else suffer with heavy glasses after a while?! Or start to miss peripheral vision?! It was Sunday morning and we were heading out for a dog walk with friends. On the drive over to the walk Laura started saying her contacts seemed cloudy - strange but not unusual, I thankfully had some contact lens solution and suggested rinsing them.
It made no difference and within the half an hour drive Laura's sight had become completely cloudy even without contacts. We were freaked but thought the fresh air might make a difference.
Some 3 hours later nothing was making a difference. The contacts were out and glasses back on but the vision was like being in a smokey kitchen. We rang 111 (UK non emergency healthcare line) and ran through the symptoms. They asked Laura to touch her chin to her chest, and if there was dizziness or blurriness, nothing gave them a clear indication of the problem and we told to get to A&E ASAP. In fact if I wasn't around they would have sent an ambulance.
We were freaked.
Arriving at Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth hospital we headed into A&E and were greeted with a fairly empty waiting room. A doctor saw us within 40 minutes. Great we thought until all his eye tests proved inconclusive. He seemed more concerned about figuring out if the eyesight was deteriorating than addressing the cloudiness. We sat patiently as he called the Birmingham eye hospital and asked for their thoughts. The conclusion was that they needed to see her.
It was almost 9pm by this point and we got the car out of the £4.70 (how do hospitals get away with such rip off charges!!!!) car park and drove the 3 miles to the central Birmingham hospital. Our instructions were clear - check in at A&E and ask to be directed to the eye department.
On arrival a mentally disabled vulnerable adult was mid fist fight with a nurse (they really are heroes) and we stood patiently by waiting for our chance to cross and check in. From there we had more instructions.....to get to the eye department go down the long corridor, turn left, through the double doors, past the cash machine, take the exit doors to the right and cross the car park towards the red building!! Simple. Actually hell no! That car park was massive. There were no obviously red buildings at 9.30pm and no signs. The main path wound past bins and piled rubbished and ended in a yard. There were dozens of pathways and no obvious choices. We ended up in a delivery area. We found abandoned buildings. Buildings in complete darkness and just when we were giving up hope a small building with lights on in the far distance. That was the eye department. We had walked for 20 minutes!
We were seen as soon as we walked in and the Doctor was reassuring from the off. Sight was perfect - check. No obvious signs of degenerative disease - check. Macular degeneration stable (remember that story about Laura's eye developing a hole? It's here)- check.
A few tests more and a conclusion was given. Overuse of contacts has dried Laura's eyes so much that when she put her contacts in after a week they burnt the surface of her eye! THEY BURNT THE SURFACE! That cloudy/burnt kitchen was burnt eyeballs. There is no reason why it happened at that exact moment, it could have been the case the contact had been stored in wasn't clean. It could have been something on the lenses. It could have been bad luck. One thing was clear though, over wearing contacts dries out your eyes and leaves them susceptible to this. No matter how long you take them out for to give them a rest. It's all about how dry your eyes are.
It's 2 days later and the cloudiness has subsided, thankfully. Laura was prescribed lubricant drops that she finds eases the dryness and glasses are on for at least a week.
It was a horrible, horrible, frightening lesson but one that has made sure we will never take wearing contacts for granted again.
And nice to see hospitals embracing the gender neutral bathroom approach!