Researchers in the United Kingdom have identified an outbreak of a rare, preventable eye infection that can lead to blindness. Since 2011, cases of Acanthamoeba keratitis among reusable contact lens wearers in South-East England have increased threefold, largely due to poor contact lens hygiene.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Acanthamoeba keratitis, which occurs when a single-celled organism — Acanthamoeba — infects the cornea, can cause permanent vision loss. Most cases of Acanthamoeba keratitis (85 percent in the United States) occur in people who wear contacts. Acanthamoeba infection is more common in the U.K. due to higher levels in domestic water supplies.
In a study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, researchers reported that they analyzed data from Moorfields Eye Hospital in London from 1985 to 2016 and also conducted a case-control study involving contact lens wearers — 63 with Acanthamoeba keratitis, 213 without the infection — from 2011 to 2014. They found an increase in these infections during the last few years of the study and determined that contact lens wearers with poor lens hygiene are more than three times more likely to develop AK.
Sourced from: British Journal of Ophthalmology