A woman in Australia lost vision in her left eye due to a decade-long parasite infection, the Daily Mail reported yesterday (Sept. 20).
The woman's infection was caused by a microscopic parasite called Acanthamoeba, according to the Daily Mail.
The single-celled organism can be found worldwide in soil and water, and can enter a person's body through cuts on the skin, contact lens solution or inhalation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If the parasite gets into a person's eye, it can lead to a condition called Acanthamoeba keratitis, which causes pain, redness, blurred vision, light sensitivity and a feeling of something in the eye, the CDC says. (Indeed, the woman in Australia told the Daily Mail that she could feel something "crawling" across her left eye.) In the eye, the amoeba causes damage to the cornea, which is the transparent outer covering of the eye.
If left untreated, Acanthamoeba keratitis causes severe pain and permanent vision problems or blindness, according to the CDC.
Doctors diagnose the infection by taking a scraped sample of a person's cornea or by spotting the amoeba during a special type of eye exam called confocal microscopy, the CDC says. The parasite is treated with anti-parasite medications.
Although anyone can get Acanthamoeba keratitis, the disease is most common in people who wear contact lenses. Still, it's incredibly rare: The CDC estimates that 1 in 33 million contact-lens wearers is affected.
In the Australian woman's case, she says that doctors originally diagnosed her with pink eye, the Daily Mail reported.
Read more at the Daily Mail.
Originally published on Live Science.