Contact lenses are commonly used by many people across the globe who have nearsightedness or farsightedness, among other eyesight related conditions. There are a number of nuisances that follow from the use of contact lens like the irritation felt when it does not fit in the right spot or having to take them off before sleeping or doing a few other activities. One also often has to make sure that the eyes do not become dry and use hydrating eye drops so redness or itchiness could be prevented. A person who wears contact lenses also has to make sure they are clean and put them in their solution for this purpose. There are different risks and considerations involved with regards to wearing contact lenses.
Taking a shower is tougher for people wearing contacts
People often complain about the risk of wearing contact lens in water, like in the shower or swimming pool and it may sound like a niggling issue but it becomes important because wearers of contacts deal with it every single day. If you are wearing contact lenses and have spontaneously made plans to go out you will have to go through the hassle of removing them and disinfecting them before you can use them again. Alternatively, you may have to dump the contacts and bring out a fresh pair if you use single use lenses instead of reusable ones.
Even when you are vacationing in an exotic location you can’t just randomly decide to take a dip in the pool because of the same reason. An inconvenience of this kind may seem small as an isolated incident but it also leads many people to bend the rules and enter into the water while wearing contact lenses.
It can be really dangerous for water to come in contact with your lenses
However, one of the many pitfalls of wearing contacts can be a rare infection called acanthamoeba keratitis, which normally occurs in lens wearers. The rarity of infections can be gauged by the fact that 1 to 21 infections occur annually per million people who wear contact lenses. The layer towards the forepart of the eye is the cornea and AK is an infection that affects this part. The infection is parasitic in nature and the amoeba that causes it is the single celled acanthamoeba. It can be present in the air, soil or water. Tap water reaches the homes after being treated with disinfectants in many countries but after that some viral and bacterial germs can remain in the water. They are mostly harmless but acanthamoeba can also be among the parasites that are present and can cause an AK infection.
How AK infection is related to the use of contact lenses
Acanthamoeba is not always removed by the chlorine in pool water or the water in the shower which is why wearing contacts lenses in water is never risk free. Similarly, people who try to wash their contact lenses with tap water end up bringing more harm than good, due to the same reason. While contact lens provides your eye with the necessary assistance in terms of vision it can also be the breeding ground for several microorganisms. The lens also plays its role in delivering and transmitting the parasite to the eye while making things worse by trapping it between the cornea and itself. If there are dirt or irritant particles also trapped between the cornea and contact lenses they can also cause a scratch while increasing the danger of an infection. AK infection remains very rare in people who don’t use contacts.
AK infections have worsened in a few cases to even cause blindness. In most of these instances the root cause was found to be related to the contact of water and contact lenses. There are cases when sudden blindness is caused as the acanthamoeba begins targeting the person’s cornea. Sensitivity towards light, blurriness of vision and pain are among the symptoms that are experienced mostly before the loss of vision. Some people also notice a yellow or white spot that appears on top of the colored part of the eye called iris. This parasite has also been associated with the onset of cataracts as well as corneal scarring which can cause a complete or partial loss of vision in both the cases.
Treatments for conditions caused by the infection
One of the possible treatments for this type of infection is corneal transplant in which healthy tissue of the cornea is taken from a deceased donor and replaced with the damaged tissue of the patient in order to restore his or her vision. Similarly, in case the infection has caused cataracts the surgical option of having a cataract surgery is often exercised during which the natural lens of the eye that has become cloudy is replaced using an artificial one.
The cases of AK infections have been on the rise in recent times while surveys reveal that many people who use contact lenses do not even know about all the associated risk factors. It is extremely important that we learn about the risks and prevent them, rather than developing a condition that needs to be treated with an eye medications list or a surgery.