A mother-of-two was left in agonising pain when her eye was eaten away by a fungus she believes was caused by her contact lens.
Jacqui Stone, 42, from Braintree in Essex, endured 22 operations and more than 17 weeks in hospital after wearing a popular brand of disposal contact lens.
Doctors were eventually forced to remove her left eye fearing the rare but aggressive fungal infection would penetrate her optic nerve and enter her brain.
Mrs Stone said: ‘They tried everything to save my eye but the fungus had grown too strong.
‘It would have killed me. Now I’m terrified the fungus will come back if I get ill.’
She bought the Focus Dailies All-Day Comfort lenses online in the UK last May.
The lenses are the second most common brand of daily disposables in the UK.
Mrs Stone, a maths teaching assistant said: ‘I had just started wearing them as they are much more practical to see the whiteboard from the back of the class.
‘I’ve worn contact lenses on and off for 20 years and have never had a problem.
‘I am one of those people who doesn’t take risks – I know I washed my hands when I put them in.
‘Everything seemed normal in the morning when I put them in.
‘It wasn’t until I got home at 5pm that I thought “these feel awful” and had to take them out.
‘I threw them away as they were disposables and didn’t think anymore about it at the time.
‘But the next day I had very blurred vision out of my left eye.
‘At the time I thought it was painful but the pain just got worse and worse.’
Mrs Stone was rushed to Broomfield Hospital A&E in Chelmsford, Essex, two days later after the pain became unbearable.
Despite her condition, she was sent home with eye drops the same day but was back less than 24 hours later after suffering excruciating pain.
She added: ‘I was screaming in pain and my teeth were chattering – it was unbearable.
‘They told me they had given me enough morphine for a broken leg but the drugs didn’t touch it.’
She was referred to Moorfields Eye Hospital in London over the Jubilee weekend but her condition continued to worsen.
Husband of 20 years, Nigel, 44, an engineer at Stansted Airport, said: ‘I have seen her after she gave birth to our two children and she looked exactly the same.
‘It was a constant pain and it was really hard to see someone you love in that much pain.’
By June, the mother-of-two was being forced into almost daily trips to the hospital due to the excruciating pain.
Eventually on June 21 last year she was referred to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, in Cambridge, where she was finally diagnosed with a fungal infection caused by Fusarium.
By then the fungus had eaten away at three layers of her eye and at 70 nerves.
At Addenbroke’s, she underwent 22 procedures to save her eye, including two cornea transplants, but at this stage the fungus had become deep-rooted.
She said: ‘They tried everything to save my eye but the fungus had grown too strong.
‘It had penetrated the lens at this stage – the doctors warned me that the next it goes into my optic nerve and into my brain. That was when they had to take the decision to cut the eye out.’
Mrs Stone, lives with her husband and two sons Charlie, 15, and Bradley, six, at the family’s three-bedroom terraced house in Rayne, Essex.
She added: ‘In hospital I nearly died three times which was really hard on the boys.’ She now wears a temporary prosthetic eye she was given in January and will begin the process of having a specially-made prosthetic eye next week.
Mrs Stone is now suing Alcon UK, as well as preparing a joint case against Broomfield Hospital and Moorfields Hospital for clinical negligence.
She said: ‘What makes me angry is that I now know that if I had been given the correct drops in the first couple of weeks I would still have my eye.
‘I still can’t have steroids as the fungus could still be laying dormant in my body and drugs could trigger it.
‘There is also a risk of losing sight in my right eye when my left eye completely shuts down as they are connected.’ A spokesperson for Alcon said: ‘Alcon is aware of a claim by a UK consumer that she experienced health-related complications from an eye infection she acquired in spring 2012 resulting in her losing one eye.
‘She is alleging that the infection was connected to her use of our contact lens.
‘Alcon was concerned to hear of this and conducted an investigation based on the evidence provided, but did not find any connection between the contact lens and the consumer’s unfortunate experience.
‘Alcon is committed to promoting safe and effective contact lens wear and ensuring the safety of patients and the efficacy and integrity of all its products.’
A spokesperson for Moorfields Eye Hospital said: ‘Moorfields is sorry to hear Ms Stone’s sad story and offers her our sympathy at this difficult time.
‘We take any allegations about the care received by our patients very seriously and undertake thorough investigations to identify any necessary improvements.
‘We will review the care received by Ms Stone to assure ourselves that she was appropriately treated at Moorfields. No legal claim has yet been commenced.’
Dr Ronan Fenton, medical director at Mid Essex Hospital services NHS Trust, said: ‘The Trust clearly sympathise with Mrs Stone regarding the loss of her eye and has investigated the circumstances surrounding it.
‘This has included working with Mrs Stone to ensure we can pass on any learning within the trust.
‘Not withstanding the likelihood of legal proceedings we hope this positive co-operation will continue.’