According to a study published in the journal Ophthalmology, those who wear reusable contact lenses are around four times more likely to develop the sight-threatening eye infection acanthamoeba keratitis (AK) than those who use daily disposable lenses.
Contact lens wearers can easily lower their risk by not wearing their lenses when swimming or taking a shower, according to researchers. Additionally, they advise sticking stickers that read “No Water” on contact lens packaging.
According to a news release from the study’s lead author, John Dart of the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, there has been an increase in AK cases in the UK and Europe in recent years. Even though the virus is uncommon, he said, public health should nonetheless take action.
“Contact lenses are generally very safe but are associated with a small risk of microbial keratitis, most commonly caused by bacteria, and which is the only sight threatening complication of their use,” he said. “Given that an estimated 300 million people across the globe wear contact lenses, it is important that people know how to minimize their risks for developing keratitis.”
A survey was completed by more than 200 Moorfields Eye Hospital patients, 83 of whom had AK. They were contrasted with 122 individuals who attended eye care clinics with different illnesses as a control group.
According to the news release, AK causes the cornea to become inflamed as a result of an infection with the cyst-forming bacterium acanthamoeba. Patients who are seriously affected typically lose more than 25% of their eyesight or go blind. A corneal transplant is necessary in about 25% of cases in order to treat the illness or improve vision.
“Basic contact lens hygiene measures can go a long way in avoiding infections, such as by thoroughly washing and drying your hands before putting in your lenses,” Dart said.
According to the study, persons who wear reusable soft contact lenses had a 3.8 times higher risk of acquiring AK than those who wear daily disposable lenses. Wearing lenses overnight increased the risk of AK by 3.9 times, whereas showering with lenses increased the risk by 3.3 times.
Researchers estimated that if patients moved from reusable to daily disposable lenses, 30% to 62% of instances in the U.K. may be avoided.