WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES BELOW
A 45-year-old United Kingdom woman lost part of her right eye after perforating her cornea while drying her face with a towel, she claims.
Claire Willis, of Staffordshire, was on vacation with her husband in Turkey in July when the incident occurred. She had just gotten out of the shower and was patting her face dry with a towel when she claims she felt her eye “pop” before experiencing blurry vision and a sudden rush of immense pain — so much so that she feared her eye had fallen out of her socket, she told South West News Service (SWNS), a British news agency.
When she looked in the mirror, her eye appeared red and sore, but there was no blood. The blurry vision and pain, however, led her to seek medical attention at a local hospital.
Claire Willis with her new eye patch.
There, doctors reportedly told the woman she had perforated her cornea and encouraged her to return home to the U.K. as soon as possible.
“I just couldn’t understand how my life had come to this or where to go from here,” she recalled.
Hours later, the pair was on a flight home. Willis bandaged her affected eye while traveling, she said.
Soon after they landed, Willis sought treatment at Royal Stoke University Hospital in Staffordshire. During the flight, her eye became infected and fused shut.
Claire Willis with her infected eye. (SWNS)
Doctors were forced to pry her eyelids open to look at her eye, which had reportedly turned yellow.
She spent the next several days at the hospital fighting the infection. But it was too late: Doctors informed the woman that her part of her right eye needed to be removed — news that “devastated” her, she told SWNS.
Willis’s retina and cornea were removed and she was fitted with a cosmetic shell over the lens of her right eye, she said.
Claire Willis is now missing part of her right eye.
Corneal perforation is often caused by “progressive corneal thinning due to ectatic degeneration, Terrien’s degeneration, infections, or immune-related diseases such as in Mooren’s ulcer and rheumatoid disease,” according to Columbia University’s Department of Ophthalmology. Other causes include trauma and “Iatrogenic during ocular surgery, such as astigmatic or radial keratotomy,” per the university.
An ophthalmologist from Royal Stoke University Hospital who treated her said Willis had a “thinner than normal cornea” which led to the perforation, SWNS reported.
Roughly a week later, Willis removed the bandages covering her right eye. She was shocked by her appearance, she said.
“I looked like an extra from ‘The Walking Dead,’” she said, referring to the zombie-filled AMC series.
Claire Willis hopes to soon be fitted for a prosthetic.
“My eye isn’t ready yet to have a prosthetic fitted, so I just have to wait and stay looking like this until my socket has recovered enough, but I don’t know when that will be,” she added.
Willis, a mom of two, said her family has been extremely supportive of her and noted she’s trying her best to stay positive.
“I had to learn alone how to cope with a half amputated eye — it was sticky on the lids and I was scared to clean it in case I knocked the cosmetic shell out,” she said, noting she doesn’t hide her affected eye.
“I fought my demons,” she added. “Everyday, I pushed myself to go out. And slowly but surely, I started feeling more confident.”