A mum had to have her eye amputated after she POPPED her cornea while drying her face on holiday.
Claire Willis, 45, was on holiday in Turkey when she patted a towel to her face after getting out the shower.
The mum-of-two said she felt a “pop” and rushed to the mirror fearing her eyeball had actually fallen out the socket.
Everything was blurry and her eye was red, so she rushed to hospital where medics told her she’s perforated her cornea, and told her to fly straight home.
Infection set in – forcing doctors to clamp her eyelids open – and after nine days in hospital she had to have her right eye removed.
Claire said she “looked like an extra from The Walking Dead” and has to wait until the socket heals so she can get a prosthetic.
Claire from Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, said: “Tim and I were getting ready in the hotel room to go meet friends, and as it’s really hot in Turkey, I had a shower to refresh myself.
“I was drying myself in the bathroom when I just felt this pop in my eye, followed by extreme blurry vision and an excruciating amount of pain.
“I thought my eyeball had actually popped out of my socket, that’s how painful it was.
“I raced to the mirror and I couldn’t see any blood or anything – it just looked red and sore and everything was blurry.
“Tim rushed me to a local hospital and a doctor told me that I had perforated my cornea and that I needed to go back to the UK.
“I was devastated, and I just couldn’t understand how my life had come to this or where to go from here.”
Speaking of after the op, she added: “After the bandages came off, I had to cope with how I looked and the reality hit me.
“I looked like an extra from The Walking Dead, and I even left my cleaning job at a school because of how it looked – I didn’t want to scare the kiddies.
“I was having anxiety issues in public, which really isn’t like me.
“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.
“I never hid my eye though. I didn’t wear sunglasses, I’ve just worn my everyday glasses and I know it’s not forever, it’s only until the prosthetic eye is fitted.
“I fought my demons, and every day, I pushed myself to go out and slowly but surely, I started feeling more confident.”
Claire and Timothy, 52, have been to Turkey every year for the past 15 years.
It was the first day of their annual break in July when tragedy struck after Claire showered in their hotel room in preparation of going to meet friends.
She felt a popping sensation in her right eye, leading to a horrific amount of pain and a cloudiness of her vision.
Bin man Timothy rushed his blinded wife to the local hospital where an examination revealed that Claire had perforated her cornea.
Devastated Claire was advised to return home to the UK immediately for medical attention and within hours, she was on a flight home with a huge bandage over her poorly eye.
She said: “We’d only been in Turkey for a few hours when I hurt my eye, and we didn’t get to enjoy any of our holiday before I had my accident.
“My vision had turned cloudy after I felt the pop, but then everything started going dark, and by the time we got to the Turkish hospital, all I could see was blurry lights.
“I’ve suffered with dry eyes in the past and just used eye drops, but never experienced anything like this.
“I was heartbroken when the doctor told me to go back to the UK, but I knew it was for the best.
“Thomas Cook were amazing, our hotel rep came straight to the hospital and got us on the next flight home.
“My eye was all bandaged up so I could fly, which was mortifying, but I just wanted to get to the hospital and get it all sorted so I could book a replacement holiday.”
Claire went straight to Royal Stoke University Hospital when she landed where doctors were shocked to see how infected her eye had become during the flight.
Her right eye was fused shut with infection, forcing doctors to clamp her eyelids open to get a look at her eyeball which had turned completely yellow.
Claire spent the next nine days in hospital as doctors tried to fight the infection, but it was no use, and the suggestion of amputation was made.
She said: “I felt so isolated in the hospital, and when they suggested amputation, I was totally against the idea.
“My dad ended up convincing me to have the eyeball amputated, and although I was devastated at the idea, I was in so much pain that I knew it needed to be done.
“There was no saving my sight, but the surgeon decided to perform a partial removal of my eyeball rather than a full one.
“He removed the middle of my eye – the retina and cornea – and fitted a cosmetic shell over the lens of my eye.”
Claire’s surgery was a success, and she was allowed to return home just one day after her operation.
She had to keep the bandages on for another week after surgery, and it wasn’t until eight days following the removal that Claire was able to look in the mirror.
The shock of her new appearance was devastating as Claire struggled to adjust to the idea of living with one real eye for the rest of her life.
Brave Claire is now battling on to get her life back on track after the trauma of losing her eye, but the adjustment has been difficult.
She returned to work three weeks after her amputation, but her body was weakened by the tragic events and she was forced to give up one of her jobs.
Desperate to not have their annual holiday taken so suddenly, Claire and Timothy rebooked flights to Turkey as soon as she was given the all clear to fly.
Tragedy struck again as Thomas Cook announced their collapse just five days before they were due to fly on 28 September.
Devastated but determined, the couple are now searching for another holiday and have their fingers crossed for third time lucky.
Claire said: “I’m still at my cleaning job for the council, but I gave up my school cleaning job – I was struggling mentally and physically, and I just couldn’t cope with two jobs any more.
“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.
“Timothy has been so supportive throughout it all, and our two children, Ben, 22, and Daniel, 20, still live at home so they’ve been helping me lots around the house.
“All we wanted was to go back on holiday and still try to have some fun this year, and our bags were all packed ready to go when Thomas Cook collapsed a few days before we were due to fly.
“It was just yet another thing to go wrong, but I’m trying to stay positive and we’re looking for another holiday deal before the year is over.”
An ophthalmologist from Royal Stoke University Hospital said: “This lady had particular circumstances that led to a thinner than normal cornea in her case.”