When Contact Lenses Become Dangerous: Acanthamoeba Keratitis

Some wearers of contact lenses  may be tempted to save money by taking hygienic shortcuts when it comes to keeping their contacts clean.  Instead of buying cleansing solution for their lenses, they may decide to rinse them with plain water or even attempt to use a homemade solution.  While a few dollars may be saved by taking this nonchalant approach to cleaning the contacts lenses, the possible harmful consequences far outweigh the financial benefits of adopting a do-it-yourself mentality.

The problem with homemade concoctions is that these will lack anti-bacterial efficacy – harmful bacteria will continue run rampant on contact lenses and can cause serious medical complications if the eyes become infected.

A corneal ulcer is an open sore  or non-penetrating erosion in the transparent area at the front of the eyeball – the cornea – and is associated with infections caused by bacteria.  This is exactly the kind of bacteria that freely grows on contact lenses when homemade solutions are substituted for commercial cleansing solutions.  Corneal ulcers can also be precipitated by wearing soft contact lenses overnight.

Those who attempt to use their own homemade cleaning solutions also run the risk of contracting Acanthamoeba keratitis,  Acanthamoeba is a water-borne, microscopic parasite that can wreck havoc  in the form of an infection when it invades the cornea.  While using homemade solutions are often the cause, swimming  in lakes and swimming pools while wearing contacts can also trigger the condition.

The symptoms that accompany this infection are intense pain and redness, and those afflicted with the infection are often hospitalized.  If corneal scarring results, a cornea transplant may be necessary.  Treatment and therapy may last a year or more, and sometimes severe vision lost can be the outcome of a bout with Acanthamoeba keratitis.

It’s crucial to remember that  accessories like the lens cases for contact lenses must also be kept clean in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.  These instructions will specify what cleansing solution to use or may even specify that the use of hot tap water to clean the lens case is permissible.  A case that isn’t properly cleaned can be a breeding ground for bacteria in the same way that improperly cleansed contact lenses can be.  Eyecare professionals suggest discarding cases every three months or so and replacing them with new ones.

The good news is that the risk of contracting Acanthamoeba keratitis can be minimized by adopting these simple measures:

Avoid the use of homemade cleansing solutions

Make sure you use commercial cleansing solutions

Msure you clean the cases for your contacts; discard and replace the cases every three or four months

Be aware that sometimes wearing soft contact lenses overnight can cause infections  for some people

Be aware of all factors that may cause infections and medical complications, such as wearing contacts while swimming in lakes, pools or the ocean

Don’t allow destructive bacterial to build up on your contact lenses and in your cases.  Eye-damaging conditions like A keratitis  can be held at bay by following a simple set of hygeinic procedures that will help to ensure that your eyes stay healhly and infection free.

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