At Moorfields Eye Hospital our specialists have noticed a big rise in cases of acanthamoeba keratitis. We want everyone to enjoy the freedom that contact lenses offer and give you some basic but vital steps to follow to keep your eyes healthy.
Take Sairia, one of our patients who lost a year of her university course and badly damaged her sight due to poor contact lens care.
What should contact lens wearers avoid?
These diseases can be contracted anywhere in the UK, and the risk of infection is raised if people:
- wear contact lenses in the shower or when swimming.
- sleep in lenses (unless your optician has told you to do so).
- do not wash or dry their hands before touching their contact lenses.
- leave their lenses in water overnight or spit on them when they are dry or have fallen out of the eye.
- over wear their lenses, including disposable ones.
Diseases that can result from poor contact lens care
- Corneal infection (known as microbial keratitis) in contact lens wearers affects around four per 10,000 wearers each year and is mainly caused by bacteria which stick to contact lenses. These microorganisms become more resistant and harmful.
- Acanthamoeba keratitis is a more rare form of microbial keratitis, occurring in around two per 100,000 wearers per year, although it varies regionally. It is a more severe form of infection and 85% of cases occur in contact lens wearers who are otherwise fit and healthy.
- Fungal keratitis can also occur with contact lens wear but occurs most often in people who sustain eye injuries from agricultural or gardening accidents, ocular surface disease and those with immunosuppression. This infection, like acanthamoeba keratitis is one of the severest forms of corneal infection that can occur in contact lens wear.
Stick to these tips to keep your eyes healthy:
- Have a regular check-up with your optician.
- Always wash and dry your hands prior to handling your lenses.
- Always rub, rinse and store your lenses in the recommended solution before and after each use.
- Check the lens are not inside out before putting them in your eye.
- Apply your lenses before putting on make-up.
- Use tap water or any other water on your lenses or lens case.
- Sleep in your lenses.
- Wear contact lenses while swimming or showering.
- Share your lenses with anyone.