Woman loses an eye from parasite in Antwerp tap water

Saturday, 01 December 2018 09:49
Stock photo Stock photo © Pxhere
A woman living in Essen in Antwerp province close to the Dutch border has lost an eye after being infested by a parasite in tap water, according to eye specialists from the Antwerp university hospital (UZA).
Petra Van Kalmthout, aged 56, was infested by the acanthamoeba, a parasite which is present in sea, lake and tap water, but which rarely causes problems unless it happens to come in sustained contact with the eye.

The infestation is thought to have taken place three years ago, the victim told VRT radio. “Three years ago I went sailing and I had my contact lenses in,” she explained. “Afterwards I took a shower, and it seems that’s where things went wrong. Tap water came between by contact lens and my eye, and in the water was a parasite which is quite benign, except when it’s able to get into your eye.”

There then followed three years of problems, leading to a cornea transplant which ultimately failed. The eye was eventually removed, and replaced two weeks ago with a prosthetic eye.

“This is an unusual story,” said Professor Carina Koppen of UZA. “Usually we see contact lens wearers with bacterial infections, but if this parasite strikes, the patient suffers terrible pain that can last for years. Eye doctors often have trouble recognising the problem because it is so rare.” Only one or two cases a year in Belgium lead to the loss of an eye.

And she advisers lens wearers to take their lenses out when swimming and showering. “And you certainly should not rinse the lens container or the lenses themselves with tap water,” she warned.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times
Google Plus

More Stories

Teacher shortage costs secondary students two hours of classes per week

Teacher shortage costs secondary students two hours of classes per week

An average 6% of classes in secondary schools were not taught in the 2017-2018 academic year due to a lack of teachers, La Libre reported on Friday.

Aalst Carnival faces removal from world heritage list

Aalst Carnival faces removal from world heritage list

The possible removal of the Aalst Carnival from the list of UNESCO world heritage sites will be examined in December, following the controversy sparked by floats denounced as anti-Semitic, the UN body said on Friday.

Docks shopping centre wants rid of cinema complex

Docks shopping centre wants rid of cinema complex

The management of the Docks Bruxsel shopping centre in Schaerbeek has applied to the commercial court in Brussels to have the White Cinema evicted.