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What is Acanthamoeba Keratitis?

December 30, 2022

Acanthamoeba keratitis is a rare and serious eye infection caused by a type of microscopic amoeba called Acanthamoeba. It is most often transmitted through contaminated water or contact lens solution, and it can cause severe eye pain, redness, and vision problems if left untreated.

What Causes Acanthamoeba Keratitis?

There are several potential causes of Acanthamoeba keratitis, including:

● Contaminated water: Acanthamoeba amoebae can be found in soil, water, and air. They can enter the eye through contaminated water, such as tap water or pool water, or through contact with contaminated objects, such as contact lenses or eyeglasses.

Contact lens use: People who use contact lenses are at an increased risk of Acanthamoeba keratitis, particularly if they do not properly clean and disinfect their lenses.

Eye surgery: Acanthamoeba keratitis can occur after eye surgery, as the amoebae can enter the eye through the surgical wound.

Weakened immune system: People with a weakened immune system, such as those with HIV/AIDS or cancer, are at an increased risk of Acanthamoeba keratitis.

Symptoms of Acanthamoeba Keratitis

Eye pain: Acanthamoeba keratitis can cause severe eye pain, especially when the eye is moved. The pain may be accompanied by a feeling of pressure in the eye.

Redness: The infected eye may become red and inflamed.

Blurred vision: The presence of the amoeba in the eye can cause vision to become blurry or distorted.

Sensitivity to light: Photophobia, or sensitivity to light, is a common symptom of Acanthamoeba keratitis.

Discharge: The infected eye may produce a thick, pus-like discharge.

Management of Acanthamoeba Keratitis

Treatment for Acanthamoeba keratitis typically involves a combination of medications and may include surgery in severe cases.

Medications for Acanthamoeba keratitis typically include antibiotics to kill the amoebae and anti-amoebic agents to inhibit their growth. These may be administered as eye drops, pills, or intravenous injections. In severe cases, treatment may involve a combination of medications to ensure that the infection is completely cleared.

Surgery may be necessary in severe cases of Acanthamoeba keratitis to remove infected tissue or repair damage to the eye. This may include procedures such as a corneal transplant, in which the infected cornea is replaced with healthy tissue, or a suture lysis, in which the suture that holds the cornea in place is removed to allow for proper drainage of the eye.

It is important to follow your eye doctor's treatment plan and take all prescribed medications as directed to ensure that the infection is properly treated. If left untreated, Acanthamoeba keratitis can lead to permanent vision loss.

Ways to Prevent Acanthamoeba Keratitis

Here are some steps you can take to reduce the risk of Acanthamoeba keratitis:

Properly clean and disinfect contact lenses: It is important to follow the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning and disinfecting your contact lenses, and to replace your contact lens case regularly. Avoid using tap water to clean your lenses, as it can contain Acanthamoeba amoebae.

Avoid wearing contact lenses while swimming or showering: Water can contain Acanthamoeba amoebae, and wearing contact lenses while swimming or showering can increase the risk of infection.

Wear eyeglasses or goggles while swimming: Wearing eyeglasses or goggles can help protect your eyes from contaminated water while swimming.

Avoid sharing contact lens solution: Sharing contact lens solution can increase the risk of infection, as the solution may become contaminated with Acanthamoeba amoebae.

Follow your eye doctor's instructions: If you are prescribed medications or other treatments for an eye condition, it is important to follow your eye doctor's instructions to reduce the risk of Acanthamoeba keratitis and other complications.

By taking these steps, you can reduce your risk of Acanthamoeba keratitis and protect your vision. If you think you may have Acanthamoeba keratitis or are experiencing symptoms such as eye pain or blurred vision, it is important to see an eye doctor as soon as possible for proper diagnosis and treatment.