In an interview with Buzzfeed life, Julian Hamlin revealed his horror story caused by wearing cheap contact lenses.
The 23-year-old from Florence, South Carolina bought a pair of $15 (£9.70) contact lenses in 2010, which he wore almost every day. However, in March 2012, despite replacing them every month and regularly disinfecting them, he woke up with a severe eye infection.
“It was so out the blue. … I just woke up and my eye felt weird, so I went to the doctor, but he thought it was pinkeye,” Julian told Buzzfeed.
A few days later, he was in hospital with a severe corneal ulcer on his left eye. Hamlin later developed glaucoma from increased eye pressure. Over the past few years, he’s had 15 surgeries, including seven corneal transplants, and $250,000 (£161,638) worth of hospital bills.
“My left eye is completely blurry; it’s been a big transition. I’ve had to miss so many days of work, and I can’t lift anything over 25 pounds because it increases the pressure in my eyes, so I’m limited in my jobs,” said Julian.
Image credit: Julian Hamlin/Buzzfeed
Thomas Steinemann, M.D., clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology and professor of ophthalmology at Case Western Reserve, also spoke to BuzzFeed Life, saying: “There is no difference between corrective and costume lenses – they all need to be fitted to your eye by a qualified eye care professional who can write a prescription.”
He added that many of these contact lenses are made cheaply overseas, often with harsh irritating dyes that are not approved by the FDA for sale in the United States. The poor quality of the lens means the eye doesn’t get enough oxygen to “breathe” properly. The rough surface of the lenses can also cause abrasions where viruses and bacteria can easily get in and infect.
Julian is currently trying to control his glaucoma so his eye is healthy enough to receive his latest cornea transplant. He’s still hoping he will maintain some minimal vision in his left eye.
If you’re responsible, there’s no harm in wearing contact lenses. If you are buying decorative lenses, make sure the retailer requires a prescription for purchase and sells FDA-approved products. Also, if you notice any redness or soreness after wearing them, make sure you contact your doctor as soon as possible.
Main image credit: Niek Beck/Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)