People wearing reusable contact lenses more likely to develop rare sight-threatening eye infection

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A study led by researchers at UCL and Moorfields found that people who wear reusable contact lenses have a rare, sight-threatening eye infection compared to those who wear daily disposable contact lenses. found that they were nearly four times more likely to develop the disease.

A case-control study published in Ophthalmologyidentifies multiple factors that increase risk Acanthamoeba Including keratitis (AK), lens re-use, and wearing overnight or in the shower.

AK is a form of microbial keratitis (corneal infection), a condition that causes inflammation of the cornea (the clear, protective outer layer of the eye).

Lead author Professor John Dart (UCL Eye Research Institute and Moorefields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust) said: Acanthamoeba Keratitis has occurred in the UK and Europe, and although infection is still rare, it is preventable and requires a public health response.

“Although contact lenses are generally very safe, there is a small risk of microbial keratitis, most commonly caused by bacteria, and the only sight-threatening complication from contact lens use worldwide. Given that an estimated 300 million people wear contact lenses in the United States, it’s important that people know how to minimize their risk of developing keratitis.”

Contact lens use is now the leading cause of microbial keratitis in otherwise healthy patients in Arctic countries. Blindness due to microbial keratitis is rare, but AcanthamoebaAlthough a rare cause, it is one of the most serious, responsible for about half of contact lens wearers who go blind after keratitis. Although 90% of AK cases are associated with avoidable risks, the infection remains rare, affecting less than 1 contact lens wearer in 20,000 people in the UK annually.

AK causes pain and inflammation by infecting the cornea, the front surface of the eye. Acanthamoeba, cyst-forming microorganisms. The most severely ill patients (one-fourth of her overall) eventually have less than 25% of her vision or go blind after the illness and face long-term treatment. Overall, 25% of her affected individuals require a corneal transplant to treat the disease or restore vision.

For this study, researchers recruited over 200 patients (including 83 with AK) from Moorfields Eye Hospital who completed the study and came to an eye care clinic with other conditions that acted as a control group. Comparisons were made with 122 participants.

People wearing reusable soft contact lenses (such as monthly) were 3.8 times more likely to develop the disease. AK, compared with people wearing daily disposable lenses. If you take a shower with the lenses on, AK increased odds by 3.3-fold and overnight lens wear increased odds by 3.9-fold. Among daily disposable wearers, reusing lenses increased the risk of infection. Having your contact lenses checked recently by a health professional has reduced your risk.

Further analysis suggests that 30-62% of cases in the UK, and potentially many other countries, could be prevented if people switched from reusable lenses to daily disposable lenses. I presumed.

A recent study led by Professor Dart found an increasing prevalence of AK in the UK. By examining incidence data from Moorfields Eye Hospital from 1985 to 2016, he and his team found that between 2000 and 2003 there were 8 to 10 cases per year, but at the end of the study period found that it increased from 36 to 65 per year. .

Previous studies have linked wearing contact lenses in hot tubs, swimming pools, or lakes to AK. Here, we’ve added showers to that list, emphasizing the need to avoid exposure to water while wearing lenses. You can reduce this risk by advising people to stop swimming. “


Nicole Carnt, First Author, Associate Professor, UNSW, Sydney, UCL Eye Research Institute and Moorfields Eye Hospital

“Contact lens packaging should include information about lens safety and risk avoidance, especially given that many people buy lenses online without consulting a medical professional,” said Professor Dart. there is.

“Basic contact lens hygiene measures, such as washing and drying your hands thoroughly before wearing lenses, can go a long way in preventing infection.”

This study was funded by Fight for Sight, NIHR Moorfields Biomedical Research Center, and Moorfields Eye Charity.

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Journal reference:

Kart, N., and others. (2022) Risk factors for Acanthamoeba keratitis in daily contact lens wearers: a case-control study. Ophthalmology. doi.org/10.1016/j.ophtha.2022.08.002.

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