Acanthamoeba keratitis is an infection of the cornea (the transparent structure which covers the iris and the pupil) caused by a parasite called acanthamoeba.
It is a parasitic keratitis most commonly seen in contact lens wearers particularly with improper handling of contact lens and using low quality contact lens solution.
The recent infamous case regarding parasitic keratitis caused by acanthamoeba was the recall of Complete MoisturePlus Multi Purpose Solution in May 2007.
This contact lens solution which is manufactured by Abbott Medical Optics (AMO) — formerly Advanced Medical Optics, was associated with an outbreak of Acanthamoeba keratitis that affected 138 people.
Acanthamoeba are microscopic naturally occurring amoeba (single cell organism) that can be commonly found in soil, air and water sources such as river, sea, tap water, swimming pool and well water.
When Acanthamoeba gets onto your eye, it adheres to the cornea and secrete a certain type of protein that dissolves the surface of the cornea.
The amoeba then feeds its way into the cornea and causes ulceration.
The process is extremely painful and can cause blurred vision. If left untreated, the disease can cause permanent corneal scarring and eventually blindness.
The symptoms of acanthamoeba keratitis can be very similar with other eye infections particularly conjunctivitis (pink eye).
Therefore, you should not take it light if you have the symptoms stated below.
Please see your doctor immediately to avoid permanent blindness.
Even though it is possible for anyone to get it, Acanthamoeba keratitis is most commonly seen in contact lens wearers.
Factors that increase the risk of getting Acanthamoeba on your eye include:
Detecting and treating the condition early offers the best result for treatment.
To determine the best course of treatment, your doctor will scrape off a piece of the acanthamoeba for examination or use a process known as confocal microscopy to check on the growth of the acanthamoeba.
Eye infection from acanthamoeba is difficult to treat. It often requires a mixture of multiple topical antibiotics to kill the infection.
If the condition does not respond to treatment and permanent scarring occurred, corneal transplant may be required if it affects normal vision.
The best treatment for acanthamoeba keratitis is prevention.
It is difficult to get it treated once you are infected with acanthamoeba.
The best prevention for contact lens wearers, who are most at risk for contracting this disease, is to stop wearing it.
Wearing contact lens is associated with too many risks other than acanthamoeba infection.
If you have to wear contact lenses no matter what, good hygiene and proper handling of contact lens can reduce the risks parasitic keratitis.
Contact lenses should also be removed before you start any activity involving water, including showering, soaking in hot tub or swimming.
If you desperately needed them for swimming, wear a swimming goggles over it and dispose the lens immediately after finishing the activity.
Learn more about how to handle contact lens properly in Fatal Mistakes Of Contact Lens Wearers.
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