Acanthamoeba is one of the most ubiquitous organisms in the environment, but rarely causes infections. When infection does occur, however, it can be extremely serious and vision threatening. Recently, there have been multiple reports of increasing incidence of Acanthamoeba keratitis. Co-infection with a bacterial keratitis is common both in the contact lens case and on the cornea, complicating prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
By educating yourself about the symptoms and risk factors for Acanthamoeba keratitis, you can help protect yourself from this potentially sight-threatening infection. The best defense against Acanthamoeba keratitis infection is proper contact lens hygiene. See the Lens Care Guide for detailed contact lens care instructions.
- A red, (frequently) painful eye infection—especially if the discomfort does not improve with treatment.
- Foreign body sensation, tearing, light sensitivity, and blurred vision.
- Red, irritated eyes lasting for an unusually long period of time after removal of contact lenses.
- Use of tap water in cleaning and disinfecting contact lenses—including the lens case.
- Swimming with contact lenses in the eyes, especially in fresh water lakes and rivers. Acanthamoeba keratitis has also been isolated from virtually all water sources—from pools to hot tubs to showers.
- Failure to follow lens care instructions (see Lens Care Guide below)/poor compliance.
Lens Care Guide
- Always wash hands before handling contact lenses.
- Rub and rinse the surface of the contact lens before storing.
- Use only sterile products recommended by your optometrist to clean and disinfect your lenses. Saline solution and rewetting drops are not designed to disinfect lenses.
- Avoid using tap water to wash or store contact lenses.
- Contact lens solution must be discarded upon opening the case, and fresh solution used each time the lens is placed in the case.
- Replace lenses using your doctor’s prescribed schedule.
- Do not sleep in contact lenses unless prescribed by your doctor and never after swimming.
- Never swap lenses with someone else.
- Never put contact lenses in your mouth.
- See your optometrist regularly for contact lens evaluation.
- If you experience RSVP (redness, secretions, visual blurring or pain), return to your optometrist immediately!