Reusable contact lens users are almost four times more likely to develop a serious eye infection

A study found that people who wear reusable contact lenses are almost four times more likely to develop a rare eye infection that could blind them.

The British scientists behind the research also warned that wearing contact lenses in the shower, in the pool and while sleeping also increases risk.

In the study, they looked at more than 200 daily or reusable contact lens wearers who presented to clinics with either an eye infection or another medical condition.

They found that Acanthamoeba keratitis (AK) — which inflames the surface of the eye and can lead to blindness — was far more common in those who pushed the same lenses in and out of their eyes.

The infection is triggered when the microorganisms get on contact lenses via a contaminated solution or dirty hands and then enter the eye through tiny tears.

Patients suffer from eye pain, redness, blurred vision, a dim view of the eye and, in severe cases, can lose their sight. Treatment involves antiseptics that need to be applied directly to the surface of the eye, possibly for six months to a year.

Pictured above is the cloudy looking eye that can be caused by Acanthamoeba keratitis (AK) infection. About 85 percent of cases involve contact lens wearers (stock image)

Pictured above is the cloudy looking eye that can be caused by Acanthamoeba keratitis (AK) infection. About 85 percent of cases involve contact lens wearers (stock image)

Acanthamoeba Keratitis: The Eye Infection That Can Make You Blind

What is Acanthamoeba Keratitis (AK)?

This is an infection of the cornea or the surface of the eye caused by a microorganism.

How do I get the disease?

It is most common in contact lens wearers but can infect anyone.

The disease is triggered when the microorganism gets into your eye, either by putting contact lenses in your eye with dirty hands or by wearing the lenses in the shower or at the pool.

It then gets into the eye via tiny cracks in the surface and triggers the infection.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms include blurred vision, a cloudy or dirty-looking cornea, eye pain, eye redness, and watery eyes.

It can take several days to weeks for these to appear after infection.

Does it affect my vision?

Left untreated, the infection can lead to permanent vision loss and complete blindness, according to the CDC.

Other complications include painful eye inflammation and partial vision loss.

What is the treatment?

Patients are usually offered an antiseptic to clear the infection from the eye, which is applied directly to the surface of the eye.

This may need to be taken for six months to a year.

Patients may also be prescribed antibiotics and, in some cases, surgery may be required.

Source: CDC

Professor John Dart, ophthalmologist at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, UK, who led the study, said: “In recent years we have seen an increase in Acanthamoeba keratitis (AK).

‘[But] Although the infection is still rare, it is preventable and requires a public health response.’

He added: “Previous studies have linked AK to wearing contact lenses in hot tubs, swimming pools or lakes, and here we’ve added showering to that list to emphasize that contact with water should be avoided while wearing lenses .

“Contact lens packaging should have information on lens safety and risk avoidance, even as simple as ‘no water’ stickers on every box, especially given that many people are buying their contact lenses online without having spoken to a doctor. “

In the study, published in the journal Ophthalmology, scientists combed hospital records for an emergency department in south-east England for patients with daily or reusable contact lenses.

They found 83 cases of AK seen in the unit between January 2011 and August 2014.

Then they checked the records for the following year for contact lens wearers who came to us for another condition unrelated to the infection and found 122 cases.

Each had also completed a questionnaire about their contact lens type and daily activities.

The results showed that of the 83 AK cases, only 20 (24 percent) were daily lens wearers.

But the other 63 (76 percent) were people using either soft or rigid reusable lenses.

Statistics showed that those who used reusable lenses had a 284 percent higher risk of developing AK than those who used daily lenses.

The scientists also looked at whether certain activities made contagion more likely.

Of the 20 AK cases who answered the question about wearing contact lenses when showering, 12 (60 percent) admitted to doing so.

For comparison: in the other group it was 25 out of 66 (37 percent)

In the paper, scientists said users of reusable contact lenses are at greater risk because they are more likely to contaminate their lenses.

To reduce the risk, they said lenses should not be worn overnight and contamination of the solution in which they are stored should be avoided.

Fewer than 100 Americans contract AK infection each year.

However, scientists warn that rates are rising, with more than 85 percent of cases being detected solely in contact lens wearers.

Symptoms of the infection take several days to weeks to appear, but include blurred vision, eye pain, and eye redness.

The eye may also appear cloudy to others or even feel like there is something in it.

Patients are usually offered antiseptics that need to be applied to the surface of the eye for treatment.

But they may also be prescribed antibiotics or even offered surgery to treat the infection.

An estimated 45 million people wear contact lenses in the United States alone.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-11243357/Reusable-contact-lens-users-nearly-four-times-likely-develop-eye-infection.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Reusable contact lens users are almost four times more likely to develop a serious eye infection

Andrew Kugle

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