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This Man Slept In His Contact Lenses And Is Now Blind In One Eye

And doctors say his story is actually more common than you might think.

Posted on August 20, 2015, at 5:55 p.m. ET

This is Chad Groeschen, a 39-year-old from Cincinnati.

Chad Groeschen / Via Facebook

Last month, Groeschen was at work when his eyes started itching. He figured it was allergies, so he wasn't too concerned.

Chad Groeschen / Via Facebook

Groeschen told BuzzFeed News that he woke up the next day feeling like he had a sinus infection, so he went to the doctor for medicine.

Chad Groeschen / Via Facebook

He said his vision was a little cloudy, but he wasn't too alarmed.

The day after, Groeschen woke up with excruciating pain in his left eye, and almost no vision at all. He found a specialist, who told him his eye was severly infected with Pseudomonas bacteria.

Cincinnati Eye Institute

Doctors told Groeschen that they think he contracted the bacteria from sleeping in extended-wear contacts.

Chad Groeschen

Even though Groeschen's contacts were "extended wear," the American Academy of Ophthalmology said in 2013 that "overnight wear, regardless of contact lens type, increases the likelihood of corneal infection." Groeschen told BuzzFeed News that he took his out about once a week.

Doctors told Groeschen that the bacteria likely got under his lens and began viciously attacking his eye. "(The) contact kind of acts like a petri dish," he said.

The active hiker and scuba diver said that at this point, he is completely blind in one eye.

Chad Groeschen / Via Facebook

His story sounds like a freak accident, but one doctor told BuzzFeed News this happens way more often than people may think.

Fuse / Getty Images

Dr. Thomas Steinemann, a clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology, told BuzzFeed News he treated a case very similar to Groeschen's just this week, and he actually treats several a year.

Rick Bowmer / AP

As with all infections, Steinemann said the severity varies and some patients make a quick recovery. But he has seen patients lose their vision from the infection. “It is more common than you might realize," he said.

Even scarier, people contract this infection from habits that most contact lens wearers do every day out of habit or laziness.

Sergeyryzhov / Getty Images

These include sleeping in contacts (which you really shouldn't do), not replacing their contacts frequently enough, "topping off" their lens solution instead of totally replacing it, and swimming in their lenses.

These are things basically all 40 million contact lens wearers in the U.S. are doing on a daily basis. A CDC study released on Thursday found that 99% of them are practicing bad habits that put them at risk for an eye infection.

Obviously not every little mistake will lead to serious injury, but Steinemann says that severe, sight-threatening infections can be caused by a "perfect storm" of these bad habits. "It’s a serious problem and, most importantly, it's avoidable," he said.

Steinemann encourages contact lens wearers to realize that this can happen to anyone, and to take their eye health seriously.

Fuse / Getty Images

He notes that people who practice bad habits and think that they are immune from infections are just in denial. "You're playing Russian Roulette," he said.

As for Groeschen, his doctors have told him that he will likely need a cornea transplant to regain vision in his eye.

Chad Groeschen

He said he hopes that others will read his story and realize that when it comes to your eyes, you can't mess around.

"If anything happens to your eye seek a specialist immediately...(and) maintain impeccable hygiene when it comes to your eyes," he said.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.