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Reusable Contact Lenses Increase Risk of Rare Eye Infection

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Lens Wearers

Lens Wearers

According to a study, those who wear reusable contact lens are almost four times more likely to get a rare eye infection that might result in blindness than people who use daily disposables.

Reusing lenses or wearing them overnight or in the shower are just a few of the variables that raise the risk of Acanthamoeba keratitis (AK), according to the case-control study conducted by researchers from UCL and Moorfields and published in Ophthalmology.

A kind of microbial keratitis (corneal infection) that causes inflammation of the cornea, the transparent outer layer of the eye, is AK.

Reusable Contact Lens

Increased Risk of Eye Infection Associated with Reusable Contact Lenses

Lead author, Professor John Dart (UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust) said: “In recent years we have seen an increase of Acanthamoeba keratitis in the UK and Europe. While the infection is still rare, it is preventable and warrants a public health response”.

“Contact lenses are generally very safe but are associated with a small risk of microbial keratitis. Most commonly caused by bacteria, and which is the only sight-threatening complication of their use. Given that an estimated 300 million people across the globe wear contact lenses. It is important that people know how to minimise their risks for developing keratitis.”

In individuals with otherwise healthy eyes in northern hemisphere nations. Contact lens usage is now the main contributor to microbial keratitis. Even though Acanthamoeba is a rare cause of keratitis caused by microorganisms. It is one of the most severe and accounts for roughly half of all cases of sight loss experienced by contact lens wearers. Although the illness is still uncommon. Affecting fewer than 1 in 20,000 contact lens wearers annually in the UK. 90% of AK cases are linked to preventable risks.

“People who wear [reusable contact lens] are more likely to wear them more often, sleep with the lenses [in], and not clean them as well,” Daniel Laroche, MD, a glaucoma specialist in New York and a clinical assistant professor of Ophthalmology with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center, told Health. “This can weaken the natural corneal barriers and increase the chance of contamination and infection.”

Reusable contact lens cases might increase the risk of AK. “About 3%–5% of healthy lens users will have Acanthamoeba in their lens cases,” said Dart. “The Acanthamoeba comes from the water supply where it is present in low levels.”

Wearing lenses while bathing or swimming, inserting them in with sweaty hands. Simply cleaning your face while wearing lenses can all increase your chance of developing AK.

Despite being uncommon, AK is a severe infection that resembles other eye diseases. The following list of symptoms might endure for several weeks to months:

eye ache

A reddened eye

Distorted vision

Responsiveness to light

Excessive weeping Feeling of something in the eyes

According to Dr. Laroche, AK can be effectively treated if it is discover early. If one waits too long, they risk losing their cornea and needing a corneal transplant, he continued. Sometimes, untreated AK might result in blindness or vision loss.

Protecting Contact Lens Wearers Safe from Acanthamoeba Keratitis

Because of infection with the cyst-forming bacteria Acanthamoeba. AK leads to the front surface of the eye, the cornea, becoming uncomfortable and inflamed. The individuals who are most badly afflict (around 25% of the total) eventually lose more than 25% of their vision or go blind as a result of the illness and require extensive care. A corneal transplant is necessary for 25% of those afflicted in order to treat the condition or restore eyesight.

In order to conduct the study, the researchers gathered over 200 Moorfields Eye Hospital patients who participated in a survey. Including 83 persons with AK, and compared them to 122 people who attended eyecare clinics with other ailments and served as the control group.

Reusable contact lens wearers (such as monthly wearers) had a 3.8 times higher risk of getting AK compare to daily disposable reusable contact lens wearers. Wearing lenses overnight raised the risk of AK by 3.9 times. Whereas showering with lenses increased the risk by 3.3 times. Reusing lenses increased the risk of infection for those who wear daily disposable lenses. The danger was lower if you recently had your contact lenses checked by a medical expert.

The researchers calculated that if patients converted from reusable to daily disposable lenses. Between 30 to 62% of instances in the UK and maybe in many other nations might be avoided.

According to recent research conducted under Professor Dart’s direction, AK is becoming more common in the UK. He and his team discovered a rise starting in 2000-2003. When there were eight to ten cases per year, to between 36 and 65 yearly cases at the conclusion of the research period by looking at incidence data from Moorfields Eye Hospital from 1985 to 2016.

First author, Associate Professor Nicole Carnt (UNSW, Sydney, UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and Moorfields Eye Hospital) said: “Previous studies have linked AK to wearing contact lenses in hot tubs, Swimming pools or lakes, and here we have added showers to that list, underlining that exposure to any water when wearing lenses should be avoided. Public pools and coastal authorities could help reduce this risk by advising against swimming in contact lenses.”

Professor Dart added: “Contact lens packaging should include information on lens safety and risk avoidance, even as simple as ‘no water’ stickers on each case. Particularly given that many people buy their lenses online without speaking to a health professional.

“Basic contact lens hygiene measures can go a long way in avoiding infections. Such as by thoroughly washing and drying your hands before putting in your lenses.” 

The CDC advises following these actions to make sure your contact lenses regardless of how frequently you should replace them stay secure and clean in order to significantly lower your risk of AK:

Visit an eye care specialist for regular eye examinations.

As instructed by the manufacturer and your doctor, wear and change your contact lenses.

Remove your contacts before participating in any water-related activity (showering, swimming, washing your face)

Wash and dry your hands completely before putting on or taking out your contact lenses. Always use fresh solutions to clean and store lenses.

Instead of using saline or rewetting drops for washing, use a multipurpose solution to clean, rinse, disinfect, and store lenses.

Clean carefully and store contact lens cases when not in use.

Every three months, replace the contact lens casings.

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