LIFESTYLE

Woman's Eyeballs Burst During Driving Lesson Due To Rare Condition Called Keratoconus

13/01/2015 11:24 GMT | Updated 13/01/2015 11:59 GMT

A woman suffers from a rare condition that means her eyeballs have burst three times.

Liz Hodgkinson, 30, first discovered she had symptoms of keratoconus, a condition that causes the eyeball to thin out, when she was on a driving lesson.

The artist and gallery owner, from Mold, north Wales, received urgent medical attention and needed 50 stitches and transplants in both eyes after suffering two further attacks.

She is now left with poor vision and has been told she will never be able to drive again.

Liz said: "At first I had no idea what it could be because it was so painful.

"I was out on a driving lesson at the time of the first case so the instructor pulled off the dual carriageway and took control of the car.

"She took me home straight away and my parents rushed me to hospital where they found that my cornea in my left eye had split.

"They patched me up but that was about it because there was nothing else they could do."

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"Then a few years later I suffered the exact same problem when I was at home but only this time it was more severe as my eye was much weaker," she added.

"I needed an eye transplant and was left with 25 stitches after being in surgery for more than three-and-a-half hours.

"Consultants told me it was the worst case they had ever seen.

"Then five months after that I suffered the exact same problem in my right eye and needed another transplant - it's been an absolute nightmare."

The first shocking attack happened in 2008 when Liz was driving along the A55 dual carriageway with her instructor.

She did not suffer any further problems for four years but was left in agony in October 2012 when she woke up in pain when her left eye had completely burst.

Liz desperately needed surgery at Abergele Hospital and in March the following year she needed a second eye transplant after suffering the same problem with her right eye.

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Keratoconus (KC) is a thinning disorder of the cornea that causes visual distortion and affects roughly one in 2,000 people.

The condition, which can also cause sensitivity to light and streaking in the eyes, is genetic - with both Liz's mum and brother suffering from KC.

Professional artist Liz, who owns the Moss Piglet Art Gallery in Ruthin, has had to adapt her style after the attacks.

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Liz said: "My mum had problems with the condition for about 25 years but I never thought my eyes could actually burst from having it.

"It's really unusual because at first it wasn't painful - I just had to squint so I could see.

"But it slowly got worse and worse - right to the point where I was in agony and couldn't see at all.

"I had to wear an optical bandage after having surgery for the first time and I was still recovering when my right eye burst.

"I've still got four stitches in both eyes which could be left there permanently - but my eyes are nowhere near as good as they used to be.

"But thankfully I can still see - I'm very lucky."