What is Acanthameoba Keratitis?
Acanthamoeba Keratitis is an infection of the eye that typically occurs in healthy persons and can result in permanent vision impairment or blindness.
What causes Acanthamoeba Keratitis?
Acanthamoeba Keratitis is caused by Acanthamoeba, which is a naturally occurring parasitic, microscopic ameba (single celled organism) that can cause rare, but severe infections of the eye, skin, and central nervous system. The ameba is found worldwide in the environment in both water and soil. The most commonly water sources are tap water, well water, hot tubs, and swimming pools. The ameba can be spread to the eyes through contact lens use, cuts, or skin wounds or by being inhaled into the lungs.
Contact lens wearers are at greater risk of contracting Acanthamoeba Keratitis due to:
- using contaminated tap or well water on contact lenses
- using homemade solutions to store and clean contact lenses
- wearing contact lenses in a hot tub or while swimming or showering
- poor contact lens hygiene (not using prescribed contact lens disinfectant or cleaning solutions, or not adhering to proper cleaning regime, using a dirty contact lens case)
Symptoms of Acanthamoeba Keratitis:
- redness and/or eye pain after removing contact lenses
- tearing or watery eyes
- light sensitivity (photophobia)
- blurred vision
- sensation that something is in the eye(s)
If you have any of these symptoms see your eye doctor immediately. Symptoms are very similar to pink eye and other eye infections. Unfortunately, if not promptly treated, Acanthamoeba Keratitis can cause permanent vision loss or require a corneal transplant to recover lost vision.
Treatment of Acanthamoeba Keratitis:
- anti-fungal medications
- topical anti-amoebic eyedrops
- surgical debridement of the cornea lesion
In general, treatment for Acanthamoeba keratitis has been disappointing, partially because the infection is frequently well advanced before diagnosis and partially because the available treatment is suboptimal. Successful treatment requires early diagnosis and aggressive surgical and medical management.