If you wear contact lenses and have the habit of washing your lenses and/or lens cases in tap water, you increase your risk of going blind. Scientists warn that contact lens wearers who don’t properly clean their lenses and cases can get infected by a cornea-eating parasite found in tap water.
The Acanthamoeba parasite is a single-celled organism that can also be found in the sea, in dust, swimming pools, and showers. Contact lens wearers, however, are more at risk of getting infected because the parasite likes to feed on bacteria that usually grow on dirty lenses and lens cases.
In Britain, the number of infections that occur every year is relatively small, around 75 out of the 3.7 million Brits that wear contact lenses, but the condition is very serious and requires a long and painful treatment with a low success rate, often leaving some of those that acquired the infection blind.
Contact lenses and/or cases that do not get completely disinfected are breeding grounds for bacteria. When the contact lenses and/or cases are exposed to tap water that contain the Acanthamoeba parasite, the parasite feeds on the bacteria and when the contact lenses are worn, it eats its way through the eyeball’s outer layer, the cornea and also starts to breed.
An infected person often experiences itchy and watery eyes, swelling of the upper eyelid, light sensitivity, blurred vision, and extreme pain. Within a week of infection, the eye/s can be permanently damaged. Scarring of the cornea occurs when the infection penetrates the third layer, leaving behind a “frosty windscreen,” described one optician.
Treatment usually requires hospitalization and the use of eye drops that need to be applied every 20 minutes, 24/7; treatment can last as long as three weeks. In severe cases, cornea transplants become necessary.
Most of the infections that occur every year in the UK are caused by failure of contact lens wearers to follow their optician’s instructions on how to properly clean their contact lenses. Opticians advise regularly and properly cleaning lenses and cases; replacing lenses regularly; avoiding wearing lenses while swimming or wearing goggles if contact lenses are needed; and keeping eyes closed when wearing contact lenses while showering.
Source - DailyMail