Acanthamoeba Keratitis

Contact lens wearers must always follow lens cleaning and care instructions from their eye doctor very closely. Proper contact lens handling and hygiene reduces the risk of developing an eye infection like acanthamoeba keratitis, which is extremely difficult to treat.

What is acanthamoeba keratitis?

Acanthamoeba keratitis is an eye infection caused by poor contact lens hygiene. Acanthamoeba are microscopic, free-living amoebas that are found in soil, water, and air. Exposure to acanthamoeba usually occurs while wearing contact lenses and swimming or showering in contaminated water. This type of eye infection is rare but very serious.

Symptoms of acanthamoeba keratitis

Acanthamoeba keratitis is not always easy to diagnose; many of the symptoms mimic other types of eye infections. Here are just a few of the major symptoms of acanthamoeba keratitis: 

  • Blurred vision 
  • Feeling of something stuck in the eye 
  • Eye redness 
  • Eye pain
  • Sensitivity to light 
  • Excessive tearing 
  • Eye burning and itching

As the acanthamoeba keratitis infection progresses, a white patch or ring may appear on the cornea. If left untreated, the infection can eventually cause permanent loss of vision.

Causes of acanthamoeba keratitis

Exposure to acanthamoeba usually occurs from contact with infected water. For contact lens wearers, good hygiene is essential to preventing eye infections caused by acanthamoeba. The following are factors that can increase the risk of developing acanthamoeba keratitis eye infections: 

  • Showering with contact lenses on 
  • Swimming while wearing contact lenses 
  • Using contaminated tap water to clean contact lenses 
  • Wearing contact lenses in a hot tub 
  • Use of homemade cleaning solutions

Proper lens care is the key to preventing this type of eye infection.

Treatment of acanthamoeba keratitis

Diagnosis and treatment of acanthamoeba keratitis go hand in hand. Doctors usually begin treatment with antibiotics that are effective against a wide range of bacteria. If the infection is resistant to these antibiotics, antibiotics that are more specific can then be prescribed. Doctors may also use prescription steroidal eye drops to reduce inflammation. Severe infections may require corneal transplantation.

If you are suffering from the symptoms of acanthamoeba keratitis, visit your eye doctor for treatment. Early treatment can prevent future vision loss.


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