This is known as “Acanthamoebic keratitis” and it’s what can happen with serious improper care of contact lenses. It sounds like one of those urban myths, but it’s indeed true. This woman from Taiwan, Lian Kao really has been blinded from not changing her contact lenses. So let this be a warning to all of you out there. Prevention is the best cure. As it turns out, the space between contact lenses and the eye is well suited for microorganisms. Acanthamoeba in this case was the main threat, and in Kao’s case six months of her not removing her contact lenses gave these little creatures time to grow and multiply. Although, Acanthamoeba doesn’t feed on human tissue it actually eats bacteria. As it turned out, bacterial infections started on Kao’s cornea, so the amoebas started there. Then they burrowed into Kao’s eyes to eat the bacteria living further in side her eye balls.
Acanthamoebic keratitis can happen if you don’t properly disinfect your contact lenses. Lens cleaners have been recalled in the past after exposing wearers to the Acanthamoeba infections via failure to disinfect the lenses properly.
Of course, lenses that aren’t cleaned properly are risky, but not taking them out for long periods of time is a much greater threat. Kao reports that she didn’t remove her lenses for about six months, including sleeping and swimming. Swimming pools often contain Acanthamoeba and many other micro-organisms and this obviously heightened her risk. Dr Wu Jian-Liang, director of opthalmology at Wan Fang Hospital says,
Photo credit: Anna S. Kitzmann, M.D.
“A shortage of oxygen can destroy the surface of the epithelial tissue, creating tiny wounds into which the bacteria can easily infect, spreading to the rest of the eye and providing a perfect breeding ground.”There is some good news, corneal transplants can often repair damage, but success is varied mainly on the severity of the infection.
Please be aware of the Symptoms and Prevention Methods: Acanthamoebic keratitis causes pain, eye redness and blurred vision, but the pain often comes after it’s too late. Washing hands prior to changing lenses is also an important line of defense. Again, prevention is the best cure. Warn others if you can! Hit one of the share buttons below to help inform others.