Reusable lenses and eye infections
British researchers looked at more than 200 people who presented to the emergency room with an eye infection. They found that keratitis caused by creepy-crawlies of the genus Acanthamoeba was significantly more common in people who had reusable contact lenses.“Previous studies have linked Acanthamoeba to wearing contact lenses in hot tubs, swimming pools, and while swimming in lakes; now we have added showers to that list. We emphasize that exposure of the lenses to any contact with water should be avoided,” – says study co-author Professor John Dart, an ophthalmologist at Moorfields Eye Hospital, a specialist eye hospital in London.
In a study published in the journal Ophthalmology, researchers analyzed hospital records for patients with disposable and reusable contact lenses. Only 24 percent of the cases involved disposable lens wearers. The remaining 76 percent were those who used reusable lenses.
What is keratitis caused by Acanthamoeba?
Infection is caused when microorganisms enter contact lenses through contaminated lens storage solution, water, or dirty hands and then enter the eye. Acanthamoeba keratitis is much more common among people who insert and remove the same lenses.
Symptoms of the infection include eye pain, redness, blurred vision, clouding of the eye, and in severe cases, even permanent vision loss. Treatment includes antiseptics to be applied directly to the surface of the eye for up to six months to a year.
“Many people buy lenses online without contacting their doctor. Contact lens packaging should contain information, even as simple as a sticker, telling people to avoid contact with water,” – believes Professor John Dart.