As a type of microorganism, acanthamoeba can be found almost anywhere and it always thrives in moist environments. This microorganism is more commonly found in regions with humid, warmer climates. One form of acanthamoeba can cause serious consequences to the eyes. It is this organism that forces the Food and Drug Administration to review the testing procedures for contact lens solutions.
Eye infection is quite common in contact lens wearers who use lens solutions inappropriately or over wear their lenses. Over wear can easily disrupt the tissue on the front of the eyes, allowing organisms such as acanthamoeba to enter into the eye tissue and then multiply quickly. In the year of 1997 alone, there are reported 138 cases of acanthamoeba infection that occurred in 35 different states.
In recent years, the trend of acanthamoeba infection is on the increase. Ophthalmologists have figured out some potential reasons. Nowadays, there is a decrease in chlorination in drinking water. In addition, multipurpose lens solutions have become the first choice. But these solutions are actually ineffective against acanthamoeba. This is the direct force driving the FDA to reconsider the testing procedure of lens solutions.
For patients who replace contact lenses daily or do not wear contacts, acanthamoeba infections are nearly impossible. For those suffering from acanthamoeba Keratitis infections, there is hardly effective treatment. Blindness is the most probable consequence and corneal transplant would be the final solution.
FDA’s action is fundamentally based on the fact that none of the multipurpose solutions can destroy acanthamoeba cysts. At the same time, FDA also provides some suggestions on acanthamoeba infections. Contact lens wearers must wear and replace lenses according to the exact schedule prescribed by the eye doctor. Never wear contact lenses during any water activities such as swimming, showering or using a hot tub. Before handling contact lenses, it is advised to wash the hands with soap for 20 seconds and dry them. In urgent cases such as realizing symptoms of eye infection including redness and pain, an immediate doctor’s visit is needed.
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