What Lens Wearers Need To Know About This Eye-Eating Parasite

Acanthamoeba

We love waxing poetic about content lenses, because, let’s face it—they’re pretty gosh darn great! Anyone with vision issues went through a stage where they had their first pair of glasses and all the ups and downs that come along with them. Now, don’t get us wrong, glasses rule, but contacts are just so freeing! That said, they do require proper care, cleaning, and maintenance to ensure your eye health. You may have heard about some creepy parasites that have done some major damage to contact wearers—and yes, it’s pretty much as horrifying as the title suggests. In this piece, we’ll explore exactly what an Acanthamoeba infection is, how it takes root in the eye, and what you can do to prevent it.

What is Acanthamoeba

The Acanthamoeba pararasite can enter the eye due to poor hygiene, such as not cleaning your contact lenses as directed or touching your eye with dirty hands; however, they can also enter in much less harmless ways. They’re found in water—even tap water. Other places include swimming pools, hot tubs, rivers, and creeks. That means that even the most fastidious contact wearer could come in contact with one of these parasites.

How Acanthamoeba Is Contracted

When the Acanthamoeba parasite becomes wedged between your eyeball and contact lens, it’s essentially trapped, which is how everything begins to go wrong. If it’s in the eye during its feeding stage, also called its trophozoite stage, it will begin eating away at your eyeball tissue, slowly penetrating deeper and deeper. The Acanthamoeba essentially attaches directly to your cornea and begins eating away.

Symptoms Of Contracting Acanthamoeba

As you might guess, this infection causes some super painful symptoms, including:

• Intense inflammation
• Severe pain
• Reddening of the eye
• Vision disruption

The longer the Acanthamoeba parasite is active in the eyeball, the more damage it can do. As it eats through the layers of tissue in the eyeball, it may eventually get deep enough where it can cross the blood brain barrier, essentially meaning it can enter your brain. Once it is this far gone, it is considered a fatal infection and requires the utmost urgency in treatment and care.

Acanthamoeba Treatment

Before you completely despair, know that there are treatments for these Acanthamoeba parasites; however, they’re much more effective the earlier they are caught. As soon as you become suspicious of a possible infection, get thee to a doctor! Treatments can be intense, but remember they are not only aimed to save your vision, but your life. They may include clamping the eye open, scraping off layers of tissue in the eye, and eye drops (which are a breeze compared to the other options). A treatment plan will be customized by your doctor for your specific case, so there could be some variance in your plan compared to someone else’s plan.

How To Prevent Encountering Acanthamoeba

Acanthamoeba is a pretty devastating infection, and the repercussions of it being left untreated are fairly terrifying. That said, by simply practicing good hygiene regularly, you’ll have a much less chance of contracting one of these parasites.

• Remember to always follow the specific instructions that come with your lenses.
• Always wash your hands before touching your contacts or your eyes.
• If you have reusable lenses, make sure to properly disinfect them everyday.
• Put in your lenses only after you’ve applied eye make-up.

Lastly, if you experience any sudden pain or reddening of the eye, don’t delay in making an appointment with your eye doctor to have it checked out. It may only be a small, common infection, such as conjunctivitis, but on the off chance it’s something much more serious, you’ll want to nip it in the bud as soon as possible. We want you to always fully enjoy the convenience of great products like Biofinity contacts or Acuvue Oasys lenses, so be sure to always follow proper maintenance instructions.

The Most Common Causes of Eye Infections

rubbing-eye1Just like all other bodily organs, our eyes are vulnerable to occasional malfunctions.  When our eyes fall ill, it is crucial to take the necessary steps in order to quickly and effectively nurse them back to health.  Indications of an eye infection can range from slight discomfort to severe pain, and can be anywhere from barely visible to an extreme reaction.  Common symptoms of an infection can include itching, swelling, increased sensitivity to light, hazy or decreased vision, secretion of watery discharge, or visible redness on white area of the eye. 

There are several ways in which an eye can catch an infection, but if you are proactive about maintaining its health, you can avoid an onset and ensure that your eyes live a long, healthy life.  Below are some common causes of an eye infection and tips on how to avoid them.

Three of the most common infections are blepharitis, keratitis, and conjunctivitis.  Blepharitis is an eye disorder that is usually linked to bacteria infections or skin disorders.  When the bacterium reaches the eye, it inflames the oil glands along the outer edges of the eyelids, sometimes forming dandruff-like scales.  Blepharitis, neither contagious nor permanently damaging to one’s eyesight, can usually be treated with hot compressing and a gentle eyelid cleansing.

Keratitis is a bacterial infection associated with the inflammation of the cornea and can cause pain, redness surrounding the pupil, hazy vision, tearing, or sensitivity to light.  This condition is often caused by dry eyes, a chemical or physical injury, or an underlying medical issue.  Keratitis can also crop up by wearing contacts for an extended length of time, and can be avoided.

Conjunctivitis, or more commonly known as pink eye, is a rather familiar ailment that most people have experienced at one point.  Though most commonly bacteria-triggered, pink eye can also be contracted from viruses or allergies.  It can be contracted simply by touching your eye with infected surface or object, resulting in an inflammation of the conjunctiva, or the outermost layer of the eyeball.  It is important to know that while allergic pink eye is not contagious, bacterial and viral pink eye is and can be spread very easily. If you do contract this condition, it’s a good idea to switch out your contact lenses for a fresh pair in once the symptoms have passed in order to not aggravate the infection once again. 

989211121_23849aec76Sometimes it only takes is a tiny spec entering the eye for it to form a full-blown infection.  Each day we are forced to face a dusty, gritty atmosphere, where it is extremely easy for tiny antagonists to invade and irritate our precious eyes.  Ironically enough, eyelashes—designed to protect our eyes from foreign objects—can also be a cause of infection if entered into the eye and left over time.  It is vital to immediately remove a foreign object once it is detected, as it could eventually pierce the outer layer, or cornea, and create an even larger problem.  Treatment for this type of infection is dependent on the type of object, and the degree of contact made.  Simply washing the eye with an eye wash solution or tap water can treat small particles, such as dust and grit.  For larger foreign objects, or if you feel something may have penetrated the eye, seek professional attention.

Being conscientious of the eyes’ susceptibilities will help ward off unwanted infections.  Never let anything that is prone to bacteria—which is just about everything—come in contact with your eyes.  Contact wearers should be especially conscientious of proper eye hygiene, seeing as they are more in direct contact with their eyes than non-contact wearers. It is important to be sure sure that lenses are removed with clean fingers, and stored in sanitary solution over night. For the most hygienic option available, consider one-day contact options by Acuvue. Treating your eyes with the care and attention they require will decrease the likelihood of an infection, keep your eyes happy and healthy for years to come.