A 25-year-old woman had a scary experience when she discovered that an itchy eye caused by contact lenses was actually a corneal ulcer. Steph Carrasco, a recruitment consultant from Wales, had to undergo emergency cornea transplant surgery to save her eye. Corneal ulcers are open sores on the layer of the eye that covers the iris and pupil. People who wear contact lenses are more susceptible to corneal ulcers if they don’t clean their lenses properly or leave them in for too long, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Other factors that can increase the risk of corneal ulcers include having or previously having cold sores, shingles, chicken pox, using steroid eye drops, having dry eyes, or eyelid disorders. Symptoms of corneal ulcers include redness, pain, swelling, the feeling of something in the eye, discharge, and a white spot on the cornea.

Carrasco sought medical help when her eye became itchy, and her optometrist, Jack Brenton, quickly identified it as an ulcer. He arranged for immediate treatment at a hospital. Carrasco spent a week in the hospital where she received 72 eye drops per day to reduce the size of the ulcer. However, she ultimately required surgery.

While most corneal ulcers heal within two to three weeks with proper treatment, Carrasco’s case was more severe and required a corneal transplant. She expressed gratitude for her optometrist and the hospital’s medical team who helped her during this difficult time.

In a previous report, Insider shared the story of a man who developed permanent astigmatism and buildup behind his eyelids after wearing the same pair of contact lenses for three years without taking them out.

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