Friday 15 December 2017

Irish student 'ripped top layer of eyeball' after leaving lenses in too long

Meabh McHugh-Hill Credit: Marco Richards PR for both pics
Meabh McHugh-Hill Credit: Marco Richards PR for both pics
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

A STUDENT has told how she was nearly blinded after removing a contact lens which was glued to her left eye.

Meabh McHugh-Hill (23), from Belfast, had left her contacts in for around 10 hours and ripped off the top layer of her eyeball when taking out the left lens.

Eye specialists recommend that lenses be left in for no longer than eight hours, as the eyes end up being deprived of oxygen.

The film studies graduate, who lives in Liverpool, has now been told that she’ll never be able to wear contact lenses again and can no longer get laser eye surgery.

“I didn’t realise that I had kept them in that long. They started to get really dry and I went upstairs, I basically pulled them out and scraped the front of my eye. I suffered a week of unbearable pain - it was excruciating, like nothing I’ve ever experienced before,” she told

“I went to sleep and the next morning I woke up and was blinded in one eye. It was so stingy and sore. I couldn’t look at any light, everywhere was too bright. I basically didn’t know what was wrong. I went to the closest pharmacy and they told me I needed to go hospital straight away,” she said.

Meabh, who has been wearing glasses since she was six years of age, started wearing contacts when she turned sixteen.

She explained that she began wearing them more regularly when she started college at John Moores University in Liverpool, due to being conscious about her appearance.

“As I got older, and when I began university, I became more conscious of how I looked and took to wearing my contacts pretty much non-stop, every day,” she said.

“My parents were like ‘I told you so.’ They knew full well that I wore them too much. When it happened, they were like you should have just been more careful. You should have realised that you had them in for longer than you should have. I didn’t realise they could glue to your pupil.”

The incident which nearly left her blind happened in August when she began to watch a film with her boyfriend, and panicked after realising she had left her contacts in for ten hours.

“I ran upstairs to take them out and stupidly, in a rush, I just pinched my eye first like I normally would do to get the contact out.

“It was kind of my fault, I should have realised I had them in for longer. I took them out too quickly and scraped my pupil.”

While she is grateful that her vision is okay now, she admits that it is difficult to accept that she can never get laser eye surgery.

“The biggest disappointment was being told that because of the corneal scarring I’m not now suitable for laser eye surgery, which is a huge blow.

"The doctor said to me that he wouldn’t operate because it might not work. He doesn’t want to risk it. He said that he wouldn’t put me through that because he couldn’t guarantee I would have 20/20 vision." 

When asked what advice she would give to other contact wearers, Meabh said that people should never get complacent when it comes to taking them out.

“People nowadays think they can just put them in and not think anything of it. Your eyes are probably the most important part of your body and if you don’t look after them, you could end up like me.”

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