Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Bad Contacts

Without good hygiene procedures, contact lens wearers are at risk of eye problems from microorganism Acanthamoeba

10 November 2018

Bad Contacts

This unpleasant character is the single-celled micro-organism Acanthamoeba, seen here emerging from its protective casing, known as a cyst. Acanthamoeba usually lives in the soil or water, but it can occasionally set up home in the eyes, causing a rare condition known as Acanthamoeba keratitis and leading to sight problems or even blindness. Worryingly, the number of cases seems to be rising, particularly in wearers of contact lenses. Researchers are concerned that poor hygiene, contaminated tap water or dodgy contact lens solutions may lead to Acanthamoeba infection. They recommend always washing and drying hands properly before handling contact lenses, being careful not to let tap water splash into lens cases, and to avoid swimming, showering and face washing while wearing lenses. Daily disposable lenses appear to pose less risk than reusable contacts, but there’s still an increased chance of infection so it’s best to be careful, whichever lenses you wear.

Written by Kat Arney

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