By Mariam Malik ‘22
Out of the individuals you know, it is often difficult to determine whether or not they wear contact lenses. Due to their efficiency, contacts have become a phenomenon in eye care and vision. A new study from the University College of London has resulted in the awareness of Acanthamoeba keratitis infections, a disease that affects the cornea and causes it to flare up and suffer. This attack is brought about by cyst-forming microorganism, Acanthamoeba.
Researchers accumulated data from 1985 to 2016 from Moorfields Eye Hospital, and found that between the years 2000 and 2003 there was a sharp increase in disease from about 9 cases a year to as many 36 to 65. A case-control study was also conducted with 276 people, all of whom wore reusable contacts every day. Sixty-three subjects were diagnosed with Acanthamoeba keratitis infections and 213 did not have the infection. After finishing a questionnaire, researchers learned that individuals with poor contact hygiene habits were three times more likely to develop the disease than people who handled their contacts with care.
Overall, the researchers in London want readers to know that the disease can be acquired by anyone, but the risk is higher for contact-wearers. Contacts are very popular among teenagers for their efficient and comfortable style, so the possibility of this disease should be an important consideration.
Although the case study was performed utilizing people who wore reusable contact lens, it should also be added that the infection can occur in people who wear disposable lens. Additionally, wearers should maintain a clean environment for their lens that is extended when handling them. The researchers suggest washing and drying hands before and after handling lens, never leaving them in for too long, and not washing one’s face or showering while still wearing them.
Research is still being conducted on whether or not disposable lenses are a safer alternative, since they do not require any contact lens or solution; however, Acanthamoeba keratitis infections are on the rise, so contact-wearers should be cautious.
- N. Carnt, et. al., Acanthamoeba keratitis: confirmation of the UK outbreak and a prospective case-control study identifying contributing risk factors. British Journal of Ophthalmology 100-103 (2018). doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bjophthalmol-2018-312544
- Image retrieved from: https://pixnio.com/science/microscopy-images/acanthamoeba-polyphaga/acanthamoeba-keratitis