Those who wear contact lenses while showering or bathing should be careful. Tiny parasites, aka acanthamoeba, can invade the eye and cause inflammation of the cornea. A 29-year-old Briton lost his right eye that way.
London – A 29-year-old Briton lost his right eye because he was showering with soft contact lenses. According to an article in the British newspapers, "Daily Mirror" and "Metro", Nick Humphreys would not have removed his traps in the shower.
The amateur footballer became infected with an amoeba called Akanthamöbe. The result: an eye disease called Acanthamoeba keratitis, a serious corneal disease.
Permanent damage to the eyes can result
In cases of corneal inflammation or keratitis, eyes are red, tears and burns. Due to the foreign body sensation, they are sensitive to light. The cornea is bleached and the conjunctiva is inflamed. The consequences of such inflammation are not only unpleasant, they can also lead to permanent blurred vision, or even blindness.
Nick Humphreys was already infected with the parasite in January 2018. When he looked at his right eye closely, he noticed a small scratch. Apparently, he was injured during the insertion of the contact lens. An ophthalmological clinic diagnosed Acanthamoeba keratitis.
Neither disinfectant, eye drops antibacterial nor two surgeries could save his eye. "If I had known how dangerous it was to wear contact lenses while taking a shower, I would not have had it," Humphreys told the Daily Mirror.
Amoeba in tap water
Microscopic parasites, between 0.1 and 1 millimeter are present in the soil, in water and in air conditioners. Acanthamoebas can nest in the cornea of the eye and cause major damage. This is indicated by the German Society of Ophthalmology (DOG) in Berlin.
Amoebae attract the eye when the lenses are rinsed with water, not cleaned enough, worn too long or while swimming. Soft contact lens wearers are particularly at risk.
In the absence of hygiene or infection – as in the case of Nick Humphreys – live under contact lenses with bacteria, viruses (such as herpes viruses) , fungi and parasites. Even dry eyes can be the cause of inflammation of the cornea. Akanthamöben is the cause in about five percent of cases.
Be careful when showering and bathing
According to a study by the Fraunhofer Institute, 88% of patients with microbial keratitis wear contact lenses. 60% of them did not disinfect their contact lenses correctly and 32% used contact lenses to go swimming. If contaminated water, eg from a swimming pool, bathing lake or pipe, gets into the eye, amoebae can penetrate the cornea .
About 100 to 200 people a year in Germany develop an Acanthamoeba infection, most often caused by wearing soft lenses. To avoid this, it is advisable to replace the lenses regularly and to maintain them only with the recommended cleaners, following the instructions of use scrupulously.
Patients are treated according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) and DOG with special antibiotics (such as a combination of corticosteroid antibiotics or broad-spectrum antibiotics and antimycotics), which kill bacteria and amoeba thus its food base. In rare cases, a corneal transplant is necessary.
According to DOG and the German Society of Hospital Hygiene, it is important to promptly make a diagnosis of corneal inflammation with slow development. After three weeks, vision can be permanently disrupted and infection can lead to blindness.
The pain often sets in after four to five weeks, when amoebae already have damaged nerves in the eyes. Even with an early infection, the patient should expect the treatment to last for more than 12 months.