• eye
  • infection
  • Acanthamoeba
  • Keratitis
  • contact lenses
  • Acanthamoeba
  • Keratitis is extremely rare in the US, but most cases do occur in contact lens wearers.

A woman who contracted a parasitic eye infection that left her partially blind is retelling her painful story to offer others a warning: Never swim while wearing contact lenses.

Stacey Peoples, an educator from Colorado, believes the ordeal began back in 2014, when she went for an ordinary swim in a pool with her son, Colorado CBS affiliate CBS4 reported back in September. At the time, she was wearing contact lenses.

About a week later, her eye became red and itchy and began to hurt, Peoples told the "Today" show, also in September. Over the following weeks, her condition worsened and the pain intensified.

"It felt like somebody was snapping a rubber band in the front of my eye every few seconds, but then at the same time, the back of the eye felt like ... it was going to explode through the back of my head," she told "Today." "The side of my face felt like a constant migraine."

Soon, she lost vision in her eye and became so sensitive to light that she couldn't work or drive.

"I was suicidal for a couple of days. If I had not had family and incredible support, I'm not sure what would have happened," she told "Today."

Eventually, a cornea specialist identified the root cause: Peoples was suffering from that's most common in contact lens wearers and can happen after swimming or bathing in contact lenses.

The symptoms can include eye pain and redness, blurred vision, light sensitivity, and a feeling that something is in your eye. The CDC recommends that anyone with these symptoms see their eye doctor, because untreated Acanthamoebakeratitis can lead to severe pain, vision loss, or blindness.

It can be difficult to diagnose in its early stages because the first symptoms tend to

"Our warning is: Contact lenses and water don't mix,"

Peoples endured 15 months of "acid drops" as treatment

told the "Today" show that contact wearers should not shower or swim while wearing lenses. If you do swim in lenses, he added, you should take them out and disinfect them as soon as you get out of the water. (Or throw them away, if they're the single-use variety.)

By the way: Keeping your contacts away from water will help prevent more than just canthamoeba

In its explanation of proper contact care, the AAO says lens wearers should always remove contacts before bathing, swimming, or doing anything where water can get into your eyes. The organization adds that lenses should never be rinsed with or stored in tap water, either.

Peoples regained her lost sight after a corneal transplant

In April 2015, Peoples underwent a corneal transplant that restored the vision she'd lost, CBS4 reported.

She told INSIDER the discomfort of recovery was minimal after the debilitating pain she experienced in the active infection.

The experience has also moved her to become an advocate for organ donation. (Here's how you can register to be a cornea donor in the US.)

"[The transplant] gave me back my life, it gave me my job back, it gave me my kids back,” she told CBS4. "It was unbelievable. True miracle."

Watch her complete interview with CBS4 below:

This post has been updated to include comment from Stacey Peoples and additional information on Acanthamoeba keratitis from Moorfields Eye Hospital.