Amoeba bug in tap water could blind Northampton student

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The mum of a Northampton student has warned contact lens wearers to beware after her daughter risks blindness from a bug living in tap water.

Kate Hope, 23, wears monthly replacement lenses and apparently contaminated them with a type of amoeba.

The single cell organism burrowed into her eye and caused such damage that she is still in danger of losing her sight even after treatment.

Her mum, Jill, said: “It’s reasonably rare to cause this much damage but we were shocked to discover how common the organism is in tap water. We want to warn contact lens wearers about the dangers.”

The last few weeks have been frantic for Kate and her family following a mishap with potentially sight-saving eyedrops.

Affected patients can lose their sight within four weeks through acanthanoeba keratitis if they are untreated, however, none of the usual UK manufacturers had any fresh stock of eyedrops. After a worldwide appeal on Facebook, Kate managed to track some down to a Mexican man who happened to live nearby.

However, the family’s relief turned to horror when, after just one day of treatment at a hospital elsewhere in England, a nurse accidentally spilt the precious bottle. That led to another appeal, which fortunately turned out to be successful too.

Jill said: “We were horrified that the treatment for something that is not completely uncommon can be in such short supply. Kate only managed to get some through the persistence of her consultant. For there to be a waiting list when there is such a small window of opportunity is terrible.”

It is still unclear whether Kate will lose her sight. It is likely that if it is saved, she will be left with scarring and may need a cornea transplant.