Cally’s story: walking Eye to Eye for acanthamoeba keratitis
7 January 2020
Cally was diagnosed with acanthamoeba keratitis (AK), an extremely painful infection that can cause blindness. After her treatment, she decided to raise awareness of the disease through our annual Eye to Eye fundraising walk.
“The Eye to Eye walk was one of the best things I’ve ever done,” Cally explains. “It was a fantastic route through the capital, and the atmosphere was amazing.”
Everyone there understood the importance of the work Moorfields Eye Charity supports.
Diagnosis at Moorfields Eye Hospital
Back in 2014, Cally began experiencing pain, swelling and a sudden loss of vision in her eye. She knew something was wrong. After several weeks visiting different doctors, she was eventually referred to Moorfields Eye Hospital.
”My eye was causing me an incredible amount of pain, but no one could tell me what was wrong,” she says. “It wasn’t until I was referred to Moorfields Eye Hospital that I was finally diagnosed with acanthamoeba keratitis (AK).”
What is acanthamoeba keratitis?
AK is an infection of the cornea, caused by a microscopic organism. It is very rare, extremely painful, and can cause permanent visual impairment or even blindness.
AK is usually found in bodies of water such as rivers, swimming pools. It can even be found in soil and air.
Little is known about this condition and it can be difficult to diagnose because many of the symptoms are similar to other microbial corneal infections.
Around 85 per cent of AK cases are associated with contact lens wear
Acanthamoeba keratitis (AK) affects just 125 people per year in the UK
There are currently no licensed medicines to treat it. It is also particularly difficult to treat because it is resistant to many forms of therapy such as antibiotics.
Within a few hours of arriving at Moorfields Eye Hospital, Cally was diagnosed and started on a tailored treatment programme.
AK is a difficult disease to treat, so doctors tried giving her a course of new, experimental eye drops.
Cally explains, “It was very scary. I wasn’t certain if my eyesight would return to normal or if I might go blind or possibly lose my eye. It was also extremely physically painful - I would spend most of my time indoors, sleeping off the pain. To put it simply, it wasn’t an easy time for me.”
1 in 50,000
Every year, AK affect around 1 in 50,000 people in the UK. Many never fully regain their sight.
Cally was lucky - she responded well to treatment. The pain stopped, her sight returned to normal and six months later she was given the all-clear.
I feel extremely fortunate that I still have my sight. There is not a day that goes by that I am not thankful to Moorfields.
Giving something back
Receiving support was key to helping Cally to overcome AK. She explains, “With all of the pain and worry came a lot of depression. The staff at Moorfields Eye Hospital were extremely responsive and sympathetic to the emotional rollercoaster AK had taken me on.”
Thank you, thank you, thank you. Words can’t express my gratitude for the help and care that I received.
Cally wanted to give something back. She decided to raise money for Moorfield’s Eye Charity through our annual fundraiser, the Eye to Eye walk.
Our Eye to Eye Walk
- A walk from Moorfields Eye Hospital past the new Oriel site
- Two routes – 5 or 15 miles
- Moorfields patients, their loved ones, staff and researchers coming together to show their thanks
- Every penny raised helps to change the lives of those living with sight loss
Walking Eye to Eye was one way of saying thank you to everyone who helped me, and to support those people currently suffering with AK. I’m with you and I know what you’re going through.
Between them, Cally and Drew raised an incredible £785 for us. Thanks to their efforts, we can invest in more life-changing research, education and care at Moorfields.