A Texas mom is hoping to have her sight restored after a bacterial infection left her with an irreparably damaged cornea.
Brittany Williams,23, took part in a mud run in Dallas on June 7 and said that after the race she felt that something was in her eye. She flushed her eye out and took Tylenol, but 12 hours later she was horrified to find she could not see out of one eye.
“I woke up and my eye was white and you couldn’t see out of it,” Williams recalled. She initially stayed calm until her boyfriend saw her eye and immediately called doctors for help.
“I could tell by my fiancé’s reaction … he’s in the medical field and started to losing it a little bit,” she recalled. “I knew at that point something was really wrong.”
Williams went to a specialist, who sent her to a Dallas hospital where she said they found that William’s contact had scratched her cornea and a virulent bacterial infection had then damaged the area. Williams said she hadn’t realized her contact was still in her eye during the race.
Doctors have yet to figure out the specific infection, but, said Williams, “They know it’s a very, very aggressive bacteria. I went blind in 12 hours.”
Williams had to spend nine days in the hospital before her eye stabilized. She said she stayed near the operating rooms because her doctors were worried she would need an emergency cornea transplant. They wanted to avoid that because the bacteria in her eye could then damage the new cornea.
Dr. Amy Zhang, an ophthalmologist at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, said having a contact in the eye can be especially damaging during a bacterial infection.
“[A contact lens] has just the right water content and there’s no other place for [bacteria] to go,” said Zhang, who did not treat Williams. “It’s a perfect petri dish.”
Zhang said if there’s no place for the bacteria to go under the lens it will start to invade the eye and can mean speeding up the effects of the infection. She pointed out sleeping in contacts means your chances of eye infection rise “nine times.”
A few weeks after the mud run, Williams, who is now using drops every few hours to help her eye heal, can no longer see out of her eye. Williams’ parents have had to help care for her 4-year-old daughter as she seeks treatment by going to the offices of different eye specialists nearly every day.
She said doctors believe only a cornea transplant will help her get her full sight back.
“It’s not going to be a quick fix,” she said. “They are going to try their best to see if I can do a transplant maybe a year from now.”
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Williams said she needs to a year to heal before she can be considered for a cornea transplant. She and her fiance are hosting an upcoming fundraiser to help cover her medical bills that she said now stretch past $100,000.
“I think that’s my best thing to do, to stay really positive and focus on getting better,” said Williams. “In my opinion there’s no point looking back.”