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What Is Acanthamoeba Keratitis and How to Prevent It?


Acanthamoeba keratitis is an eye infection that is rare but serious, mostly affecting people who wear contact lenses, but it can affect anyone. It is caused by microscopic, one-celled living amoeba called acanthamoeba. If these amoebas get into the eye then acanthamoeba keratitis can occur, infecting the cornea. Acanthamoeba amoebas are commonly found in sources of water such as, lakes, tap water, hot tubs and oceans. Trying to prevent this infection is always best as it can be very difficult to treat once it has been contracted, and some infections can be so serious that the only option is to have a corneal transplant.


Here are 7 top tips on the best ways to reduce the chance of getting acanthamoeba keratitis if you wear contact lenses.


1. Always visit your eye clinic for regular eye checks.


2. Before you touch your contact lenses, always make sure you have clean dry hands.


3. Never use tap water to wash or keep your contact lenses in, only use the recommended solution.


4. For wearers of monthly contact lenses, always wash them as soon as they have been removed in the recommended solution, and always store them in a clean case that has been filled with fresh disinfectant solution, never ‘top up’ older solution with fresh solution.


5. You may have various solutions which you have been asked to use, one for cleaning and one for storing the lenses, so make sure you always use the correct one for the correct job. You can now get a multipurpose solution, but always use what you have been recommended by your eye care professional.


6. Never swim, shower or bathe, or use a hot tub when wearing contact lenses, as this is where acanthamoeba amoebas live, and can easily get in the eye and under the contact lens causing acanthamoeba keratitis. If you must wear your contact lenses while swimming, then make sure you wear swimming goggles over the top of them.


7. Always remember that not only do you have to clean your lenses but also clean and disinfect your lens case.


Author: Samer Hamada is a distinguished consultant ophthalmologist and cornea surgeon performing eye surgeries at his practice, Eye Clinic London. With nearly two decades’ experience, Mr. Hamada is recognised as a leading expert in the field of cataract, refractive lens exchange (RLE) and corneal surgeries.


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