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.
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.