Acanthamoeba keratitis is a rare but serious eye infection caused by a microscopic organism known as Acanthamoeba. This organism is commonly found in soil and water, and can infect the cornea of the eye if it comes into contact with contaminated sources.
One of the most common ways that people can contract Acanthamoeba keratitis is through the use of contact lenses. The infection can occur when contact lenses are not properly cleaned and disinfected, or if they are worn for extended periods of time. Additionally, those who swim or shower while wearing contact lenses are at a higher risk of contracting the infection.
Symptoms of Acanthamoeba keratitis can include severe eye pain, redness, blurred vision, and sensitivity to light. In severe cases, the infection can lead to permanent vision loss or even blindness.
The single best way to avoid eye infections is to follow proper lens care guidelines as prescribed by your eye care professional. The following are key tips for contact lens care:
- Before handling contact lenses, wash your hands with soap and water, then rinse and dry them with a lint-free towel.
- Minimize contact with water, including removing lenses before going swimming or in a hot tub.
- Contact lenses should not be rinsed with or stored in water (tap or sterile water).
- Wear and replace contact lenses according to the schedule prescribed by your eye care professional.
- During cleaning, using fresh solution, rub your contact lenses with your fingers, then rinse the lenses with solution before soaking them – even if the solution you are using is a “no-rub” variety.
- Contact lens cases should always be cleaned with fresh solution – not water. Then leave the empty case open to air dry.
- Keep the contact lens case clean and replace it regularly, at least every three months.
- Do not re-use old solution or “top off” the solution in your lens case.
- Do not use cracked or damaged lens cases. Lens cases can be a source of contamination and infection.
If you suspect that you may have Acanthamoeba keratitis, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment can greatly improve the chances of a successful outcome.