Now that the warm temperatures are here, many people are embarking on their summertime vacations and activities. If any of your summer adventures involve swimming, and if you wear contact lenses, then you should be aware of Acanthamoeba. Exposure to this germ can result in a rare condition known as Acanthamoeba keratitis, and patients who aren’t treated immediately could develop a permanent visual impairment.
There are a few recorded cases of this infection impacting those who don’t wear contact lenses, but the vast majority of sufferers are contact lens wearers. Here is a closer look at exactly what this infection is and some steps that you can take to avoid it.
What Is Acanthamoeba?
Many people are surprised to hear that Acanthamoeba can be found in almost all water sources, including rivers, lakes, swimming pools, hot tubs, and the ocean. Every time you go swimming, you are most likely coming into contact with those germs, but they rarely cause any unwanted side effects.
Unfortunately, contact lens wearers can contaminate their lenses and lens cases if they wear their contacts while swimming. You can also contaminate a case by washing it out with tap water. When the contaminated lenses are placed back into the eyes, the germs may try to attack the corneas. Redness, blurry vision, and light sensitivity are all common signs of Acanthamoeba keratitis.
Avoiding Eye Infections
In addition to removing your contacts while swimming, you should also practice good hygiene habits at home. This includes washing your hands with soap and warm water before touching the lenses and regularly sanitizing your case.
The only liquid that should go inside the case is a sterile solution made specifically for contacts. After inserting the lenses into your eyes each morning, the old solution should be thrown out. You must also never sleep or shower with your lenses in your eyes.
If you want to keep your eyes safe and healthy this summer, or if you need to schedule your annual eye exam when you have more flexibility during the summer months, then please contact our office today to schedule an appointment.