Swimmers who are also contact lens wearers may want to take a look at a recent study conducted by Dr. John Dart, from University College London’s Institute of Ophthalmology, citing risks for developing Acanthamoeba Keratitis (AK). Due to the current outbreak of AK where incidences have tripled since 2011, although the disease is still considered rare, the study was aimed at identifying potential risk factors contributing to the onset of the disease.
According to the Mayo Clinic, AK involves an inflammation of the cornea and can be caused by an infection involving bacteria, viruses, fungi or parasites. Symptoms include eye redness, pain, discharge, difficulty opening lid, blurred or decreased vision. Per the study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology on September 21st, 1 in every 4 people infected wind up losing some or all of their vision. Overall, 25 percent of those affected required corneal transplants to treat the disease or restore vision, the researchers said. (UPI)
Although the researchers found that the risk for developing AK is more than 3 times greater among people with poor contact lens hygiene, the study did find a link between AK and wearing contacts in swimming pools or hot tubs.
Dr. Jules Winokur of New York City said, “In clinical practice, we see cases of acanthamoeba on a regular basis. Most often, these cases present in patients wearing contact lenses who have been exposed to contaminated water, which could be from swimming pools, water parks or even showers at home.” Dr. Winokur was not involved in the study. (UPI)
“People who wear reusable contact lenses need to make sure they thoroughly wash and dry their hands before handling contact lenses, and avoid wearing them while swimming, face washing or bathing,” the study’s Dr. Dart said.
“Daily disposable lenses, which eliminate the need for contact lens cases or solutions, may be safer and we are currently analyzing our data to establish the risk factors for these,” he added. (UPI)