Cornea-eating parasite latches onto contact lens of Colorado mom, causing blindness

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AURORA, Colo. -- Hindsight is 20/20, but Stacey Peoples is just thankful she can even see at all.

"It's unbelievable going from being blind to being able to see. It's like out of the Bible," said Peoples.

Stacey's story begins in June 2014.

She was at a pool in Aurora with her 4 year-old when some water splashed into her eye. She didn't know it, but a parasite called Acanthamoeba was in the water and attached to her contact lens and then her cornea.

"This little parasite is everywhere. It's in tap water. It's in pools. It's in rivers," said Peoples.

Stacey's eye started to burn and turn red.

"The pain is horrific and it's 24/7," said Peoples.

Within 3 or 4 weeks, she couldn't see out of her eye at all. After repeatedly being misdiagnosed, a specialist in Michigan eventually discovered the parasite, but it was too late to save Peoples' cornea.

"The pain was like snapping a rubber band in my eye constantly, then the back of my head blowing out," she said.

Stacey's world went dark. She wasn't able to tolerate any light and was forced to spend five months in a completely dark room, leaving only to visit the doctor.

"You can't watch TV. You can't read. You can't do anything where you wonder if it would be better if you were dead. I can't be a mom. I can't drive," she said.

Finally, 10 months after the pain began, Stacey received a cornea transplant. She says it was the biggest gift of her life.

"The day the bandage came off was probably even a bigger day than when my kids were born. It was truly an unbelievable miracle," she explained.

The mother of four is now sharing her story as a warning to others to avoid wearing contacts in water. She also hopes her story inspires others to become organ donors.

"By getting a transplant of a cornea, I got my life back. I got to be a mom again," Stacey said.

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