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Svjetlost is the leading ophthalmology Clinic in the Southeastern Europe, offering complete ophthalmic services.

You swim and shower with contact lenses, but do you know about Acanthamoeba?

You swim and shower with contact lenses, but do you know about Acanthamoeba?
In approximately 90% of cases, the disease is related to use of contact lenses since they cause corneal microtrauma so this parasite can penetrate the eye. 
Acanthamoeba is a widespread parasite from a group of protozoa. It exists in the earth, the air, but mostly in water systems around the world. Their main habitats are lakes, rivers and the seas, but we find them in swimming pools, running water and air conditioning systems. 

The cornea inflammation caused by Acanthamoeba was first described in 1973. This is a serious condition that can result in vision loss. It’s difficult to treat and leaves cornea with severe consequences, which often results in corneal transplantation.

In approximately 90% of cases, the disease is related to use of contact lenses since they cause corneal microtrauma so this parasite can penetrate the eye. This does not mean that the disease occurs frequently, but it requires care and adherence to the guidelines on behaviour and contact lens maintenance. 

Inflammation may be associated with all types of contact lenses. Factor increasing the risk of infection are:
·      Tap water use when maintaining contact lenses
·      Use of solutions that have expired or keeping contact lenses in saline
·      Old dirty lids
·      Wearing contact lenses in saunas, swimming and showering with lenses
·      Non-observance of the prescribed contact lens replacement deadline
·      Dirty hands 
 
Signs of inflammation are nonspecific. What characterizes this disease in the beginning is disproportion between pain and corneal findings/reports. In later stages, the disease festers, comes to large inflammation, corneal blur and thinning. 

If Acanthamoeba is suspected, a corneal sample should be taken as soon as possible to microbiological analysis to initiate local and systemic remedies promptly. Treatment is difficult, long lasting and has uncertain outcome. 

Dr. Maša Mikuličić, spec. ophthalmologist