Published: 00:01, 19 February 2018
A maths teacher has revealed how a dip in a French lake almost cost him his sight and forced him to take six months off work.
Contact lens wearer Richard Brogan was left in excruciating agony after he contracted a rare infection on holiday.
But he dismissed his wife’s advice to get it checked out, and ignored the symptoms, thinking he just needed new lenses.
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The prognosis, however, was much more serious, and Mr Brogan, who works at Maidstone’s Valley Park school, has only the surgeons at Kent & Canterbury Hospital to thank for saving his eyesight.
They were forced to operate after it was discovered the 57-year-old had picked up a condition called acanthamoeba keratitis.
This is typically triggered when contact lenses are not cleaned or handled correctly.
Mr Brogan’s eye was infected when he swam in a lake in northern France, but it was not until he returned home to Hillside Avenue, Canterbury, that it became clear how serious the problem was.
His vision then began to deteriorate and he was left in agonising pain, with the cornea having the highest density of pain receptors in the body.
“It was very hard to put up with,” he said.
“I had to try and sleep on one side of my body and had to take six months off work.
“My eye wasn’t nice to look at either – it was bloodshot and there was almost zero light getting through.
“I’ve been a contact lens wearer since the age of 18 or 19 and had various issues with grit and irritation, but I never realised something as serious as this could occur.
"I thought I needed new lenses.”
He added: “I didn’t take my wife’s advice to get checked, so I regret that.
“My sight is now by no means perfect, but I regard myself as incredibly fortunate.
"The pain going was one of the most amazing things that’s happened to me.”
Mr Brogan was left with little choice but to have a corneal transplant, carried out at the K&C by consultant opthalmologist Nick Kopsachilis.
The consultant said: “Acanthamoeba keratitis is a rare condition, but it can have devastating impact on the patient suffering the disease.
“Richard was experiencing extreme pain that was having a large physical and psychological impact.
"I’m very pleased that he is now fully recovered from his ordeal, and that we gave the care and expertise that was required to help him get better.”
Mr Brogan, who works at the school’s Huntsman Lane site in the County Town, added: “The corneal graft wouldn’t have been possible without a donor who I’ll never be able to thank.
“But thanks to their gift, I can now see properly again, and I’m free of pain.”