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Dangerous infection: woman showered with contact lenses and went blind


Ms. went blind after wearing contact lenses in the shower

In the UK, a woman is blind in one eye after suffering a rare eye infection while showering and swimming with contact lenses. The 41-year-old later underwent a corneal transplant, which slightly improved her eyesight.

Danger to the eyes

Millions of people wear contact lenses. The small visual aids can be of great advantage, but they can also be dangerous for the eyes. For example, US scientists reported that contact lenses - if used improperly - can cause eye infections and serious eye damage. One of these dangerous infections is amoeba keratitis (AK). This can trigger blindness. This also shows a case that British scientists are now reporting.

Rare eye infection led to blindness

A woman's habit of wearing her contact lenses while swimming and showering had serious consequences.

According to a new case report, she developed a rare eye infection that blinded one eye.

Dr.'s report Lanxing Fu from Manchester Royal Eye Hospital and Dr. Ahmed Gomaa of Blackpool Victoria Hospital was recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Ms. also wore contact lenses while swimming and showering

The 41-year-old woman, who lives in the United Kingdom, went to the ophthalmologist after suffering from blurred vision, eye pain and sensitivity to light in her left eye for two months.

According to media reports, she told the doctors that she used disposable monthly lenses and also wore them when swimming and showering.

An eye test showed that her eyesight for the left eye was 20/200; a value where patients in the UK are considered "blind". Her right eye was not affected.

As the Internet portal “Live Science” reports, the doctors were able to determine a clouding in the cornea of ​​the patient.

They then carried out another eye test, in which damage to the outer eye shell can be seen with a special dye.

The dye turns the affected areas green when doctors throw a blue light on the eye.

The doctors found a defect in the cornea of ​​the woman, which is why they took samples from her eye that tested positive for Acanthamoeba keratitis. According to experts, amoeba keratitis (AK) is caused by parasitic Akanthamöben.

Infection usually occurs through contaminated contact lens containers

"With AK, the infection usually occurs indirectly via contaminated contact lens containers and care products or, subsequently, contaminated contact lenses," explains the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) on its website.

And in rare cases directly from contaminated water. "The last-mentioned infection route mainly plays a role if contaminated water is used to wash out / rinse the eyes," said the experts.

"A short, one-time amoeba contact is probably sufficient for an infection, especially if the cornea is damaged as a result of the contact," writes the RKI.

According to the experts, it has to be taken into account that "under difficult conditions, acanthus forms cysts that can be highly resistant to cold and dehydration, but also to chemical agents."

The incubation period for the infection ranges from a few days to several weeks.

How to protect yourself

"There is no evidence for the direct transmission of an AK from person to person, but there is for indirect transmission, e.g. by sharing infected contact lenses, ”explains the RKI.

According to the institute, the infection “can be avoided in most cases by strict contact lens hygiene. First of all, hands should always be washed well before handling contact lenses (KL). Possibly poorly maintained contact lens cases are probably the most important source of infection. "

Early diagnosis usually enables successful therapy

As the RKI writes, early diagnosis of AK enables therapy, which is often lengthy, but is usually successful.

"This ranges from topical medication to surgical intervention," said the experts.

A surgical procedure, a corneal transplant, was also carried out on the 41-year-old patient from Great Britain.

After the operation, her eyesight improved slightly for the left eye, but was still impaired. And the woman had no more eye pain.

According to the RKI, therapy success should be checked regularly up to about six months "after the symptoms have subsided, since a single cyst that survives in the stroma can possibly lead to a flare-up of the infection." (Ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


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