Acanthamoeba is one of the most microscopic organisms in the environment, but it rarely causes any infection. When infection does occur, though, it can be extremely serious and can endanger your vision. It is a parasite usually found on soil and water such as tap water, swimming pools, hot tubs, and seawater. Keratitis, on the other hand, is the inflammation of the cornea.
In the United Kingdom alone, about 1 in 30,000 contact lens users are infected with Acanthamoeba. However, contact lenses are not the only cause of the infection. You could also be infected after a corneal injury but improper handling and contact lens hygiene pose an incredibly high risk for getting the rare infection.
Symptoms of Acanthamoeba Keratitis
- A red, irritated, and painful eye that does not improve with simple traditional treatment like eye drops.
- A feeling of having a foreign substance in the eye
- Excessive tearing
- Blurred Vision
- Light sensitivity
The primary cause of Acanthamoeba Keratitis poor hygiene. Examples of poor contact lens hygiene are using unsterile eye drops, expired eye solutions, expired contact lenses, reusing the solution in the contact lens case, and not drying out the contact lens case. Not taking off contact lenses overnight, when swimming, or taking a shower could increase the risks of infection. So does putting lenses in with wet hands from unsterile tap water.
Lens Care Guide
Your best defense against being infected with Acanthamoeba is to maintain proper eye and contact lens hygiene. Here are a few guidelines in handling your contact lenses properly:
- Always wash your hands before and after handling contact lenses.
- Clean your lenses by rubbing and rinsing its surface before storing it.
- Use only sterile products advised by your optometrist to disinfect your lenses. Remember, saline solution and rewetting drops are not meant to disinfect lenses.
- Do not use tap water to wash or store your contact lenses.
- Contact lens solution must be discarded upon opening the case, and a new solution must be used each time the contact lens is stored in the case.
- Replace lenses using your doctor prescribed schedule and before the expiry date.
- Do not sleep in contact lenses unless they are recommended by your doctor
- Never use contact lenses while swimming or taking a shower
- Never swap lenses with somebody else.
- Never put contact lenses in your mouth or use saliva to re-wet the contact lens.
See your eye doctor regularly for contact lens evaluation and regular eye checkups. If you experience RSVP (redness, secretions, visual blurring, or pain) contact your doctor immediately.