Daily Disinfection of Contact Lenses by the Right Solution Protects Eyes from A Serious Sight Threatening Ulcer by Acanthamoeba

 

 

 

The number of cases of ulcers caused by a small organism called Acanthamoeba have increased dramatically in the last few years.  Acanthamoeba ulcers can cause a lot of damage and leave the cornea severely scarred, resulting in permanent damage to vision.

In the UK Acanthomeba infection cases have risen sharply in recent years, prompting Moorfields Eye Hospital to launch an awareness and prevention campaign:

http://www.moorfields.nhs.uk/content/healthy-habits-healthy-eyes

Acanthamoeba is a microscopic organism found abundantly in soil and fresh water. It is virtually everywhere including in lakes, rivers, swimming pools and in our normal water supply.  Normally it causes no problems, however contact lens wearers can get infected by it as the surface of their corneas can be compromised, allowing Acanthamoeba entry into the deeper layers of the cornea. 85% of people who get Acanathamoeba kereatitis are contact lens wearers.

Once it's in the cornea, Acanthamoeba if not detected early and treated, will go on to cause a severe ulcer.  

Detection of Acanthamoeba is quite difficult as the symptoms it causes are often not very specific and initially there are no obvious signs of its presence. It also has a long incubation period so doesn't show up in initial laboratory tests.

Acanthamoeba keratitis is therefore frequently mis-diagnosed and treated as something else. By the time obvious signs develop, the disease is at a stage where it is very difficult to treat and can even need hospitalisation, with intense round the clock treatment to prevent loss of the eye.  

Prevention is key to reducing the risk of getting this awful infection and proper disinfection of contact lenses using a solution that kills Acanthamoeba is part of that process.  Acanthamoeba is a pretty resistant bug and not all solutions will kill it. The current recommended solutions are as listed below:

 

For Hard, Gas Permeable & Scleral Lenses Use:

Menicare Plus:  Kills Acanthamoeba in 2 hours

Menicon Progent use weekly for intense cleaning

 

For Soft Lenses Use:

Avizor All Clean Soft: Kills Acanthamoeba in 4 hours

 

Also important steps in prevention is not to expose lenses to non-sterile water:

  • Do not rinse lenses in tap water. Use sterile saline
  • Do not shower or swim in lenses
  • Dry hands thoroughly after washing them and before handling lenses
  • Leave contact lens cases to air dry after rinsing and before re-using