What is it?

Acanthamoeba is a microscopic, single-celled organism that is extremely common in nature. These amoebas can be found in bodies of water, soil, and in the air. While it is extremely rare, an infection called acanthamoeba keratitis can be a serious eye problem. If untreated, the infection can lead to permanent loss of sight.

How does it happen?

If one of these tiny organisms comes in contact with an eye, it can lead to an infection. More specifically, it will infect the transparent outer part of the eye: the cornea. Acanthamoeba keratitis is often connected to contact lens use. If your contact lens comes in contact with infected water, it can easily spread to your eyes.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms are usually similar to those of more common eye infections (such as “pink eye”). They can last anywhere from several days to a few months, depending on how quickly the infection is diagnosed and treated. Symptoms may include the following:

  • Red eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Eye pain
  • Blurred vision
  • Tearing
  • A feeling like something is in the eye

What are my risk factors?

Almost all of the cases of Acanthamoeba keratitis are caused by improper contact lens care. If you wear contact lenses, you are the most vulnerable to an infection. If you use tap water to clean your lenses or swim while wearing them, you are even more vulnerable.

How is it diagnosed and treated?

Acanthamoeba keratitis is often diagnosed in later stages. You may be tested for this infection after your eye does not respond to treatment for a typical eye infection. An infection can be confirmed by testing your contact lenses or by scraping off a tiny piece of your cornea.

Treatment will include one (or more) prescription medications, decided by your doctor.

How can I prevent it from happening?

As most cases occur in contact lens wearers, it is extremely important to take proper care when handling your lenses. Avoid wearing your lenses when swimming, using a hot tub, or showering. Always use the proper disinfectant for cleaning your lenses (never tap water). Always wash your hands before handling your contact lenses.

If you are experiencing similar symptoms to Acanthamoeba keratitis, contact us today.

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