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Your Contact Lenses Could Make You Blind

Many of you rely on your contact lenses in order to help you see, but your lenses could end up taking away your vision. What an ugly irony. The problem starts with a simple single cell microorganism — acanthamoeba.

Acanthamoeba is one of the most common types of protozoan that live in soil and fresh water. They can be found in city tap water, so if you rinse your lens case in water from the sink, this amoeba can be transferred to your contact lenses and then to your eye. These protozoan can live and multiply in both your contact case and your eyes, and can go back and forth between the two because commercial contact lens solution can't kill them. Once they're in your eyes, they can cause a painful infection known as amoebic keratitis, which can lead to blindness. The prevalence of this infection has increased because so many people wear contact lenses now.

The lenses that you wear for a year or two were found to contain the most pathogenic (disease-causing) strains of acanthamoeba. The ones that you keep for a month or two weeks contained fewer, and the daily lenses contained no acanthamoeba. Talk to your eye doctor about the kinds of contact lenses you wear to see which would be the healthiest for your eyes. Scientists are on the move trying to develop a contact lens solution that can kill this nasty amoeba, but for now, it's recommended that you don't rinse your lens case in tap water.


Peter2218445 Peter2218445 5 years
Renu fresh contact solution effectively kills Acanthamoeba trophozoites and cysts. There's virtually no chance of being blinded by contacts if you follow good hygiene and your eye doctor's instructions when dealing with contacts.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
when i wore contacts i used to use some type of cleanser that would fizz if there was a calcium build up or bacteria on them, so i think that i was pretty lucky about that. i don't think that i ever cleaned mine with water - but i guess there are some people who do. it's scary to think that something that's supposed to make your eyes better CAN hurt them
smileygirlmt smileygirlmt 8 years
I recently had an acanthameoba scare as well. Thankfully it turned out to NOT be the dreaded ameoba, but it still put the fear of tap water in me. To this day I refuse to wear contacts at the beach, in swimming pools, hot tubs, or even when I take a shower. The fear of messing with my eyesight again is overwhelming. Again, acanthamoeba is still incredibly uncommon. I had to go to the best eye doctors in the US (Wilmer Eye Insitute at Johns Hopkins) to actually get a negative diagnosis for acanthamoeba, as no other opthamologist in the DC area could diagnose me. Just keep your contacts clean and you will be okay.
Matamoros Matamoros 8 years
distilled water
tidesong tidesong 9 years
Well am I glad I use dailies!
foxie foxie 9 years
Thanks njau! * stops peeing pants in terror *
Spectra Spectra 9 years
I usually rinse my contact case with sterile saline and let it air-dry. I don't usually let tap water come in contact with my lenses (don't EVER rinse your lenses with tap water). Also, I change my lenses pretty often. Just use common sense and I'm sure you'll be fine. I have seen people who get conjunctivitis put contacts in their infected eyes and then re-infect themselves when they put the dirty contacts back into their eyes. Now THAT'S gross.
sushi09 sushi09 9 years
You should try one a day contacts and then you don't have to worry about cleaning your case at all :) I love my one a days!! So easy!
heartbreakerx62x heartbreakerx62x 9 years
OMG, how yucky! I was thinking the same thing as lattegoodness! Also, NEGG, what kind of symptoms did your husband have? How do you know if your eyes are just irritated, or if you have a real problem?
njau njau 9 years
This post is important but also a little ridiculous. For the contact lens wearers out there: - it's okay to wash your hands with normal tap water prior to removing lenses. Even those who do not wear contact lenses have about as much chance of getting an amoebic infection from having a shower as those who are from washing their hands prior to lens removal - The amoeba will normally show up in those individuals who overwear their lenses, sleep in their lenses, never throw out the lens case (even though it is written on the box), and practice poor hygiene. - Even those disposable lenses have largely decreased this infection, many contact lens wearers still do not practice proper care regiments which is the breeding ground for this organism to grow Therefore: - Read the instructions on your lens solution - Always dispose of the lenses as stated by your optometrist - Always get rid of the case EVERY single time you open a new bottle of saline - See your optometrist for regular eye exams and if you ever wake up with a red, irritated, angry looking eye that your vision just isn't what it should be, call asap for an appointment as this could be a sign of something bad. Sorry I went on a rant but I am an Optometrist in training and posts like this with out the proper information sets up patients to be in a tizzy if they don't know all the facts. I'm not saying I have them all either, but all these posts are just frantically scared they will go blind today!
Noodles-and-Waffles Noodles-and-Waffles 9 years
My husband had amoebic keratitis and had to have the top layer of his cornea scrapped off to remove the acanthamoebas. He was extremely lucky because most people require cornea replacements. The doctors believe that he got the acanthamoebas from opening his eyes in a swimming pool while wearing contact lens. But don't be too worried...amoebic keratitis is pretty rare...something like 1 in 2 million contact wearer's get it. This is probably why it took four eye doctors to diagnose my husband.
UrbanBohemian UrbanBohemian 9 years
Oh my God! I had no idea! Thanks Fit!
esweet esweet 9 years
This is freaking me out. Of course I rinse my contact case with tap water - how else to rinse? Occasionally, I do put my contact case through the dishwasher (is that weird?) as I feel it sterilizes it again. I don't switch my case out as often as I should though...
lattegoodness lattegoodness 9 years
Ok, so I have a hypothetical to put to ya'll: what if you already have the nasty stuff in your eyes but you changed out your contacts and your case... how do you guarantee that you won't transmit it back from your contact to your cases and continue to contamination??
sonya-ina sonya-ina 9 years
Boy am I glad I got PRK. My contacts caused me so many problems, to the point I couldn't even wear them anymore. I don't envy any of you ladies.
True-Song True-Song 9 years
ohkate ohkate 9 years
I don't know what I'd do if I lost my sight... my job depends on it although I have heard of blind photographers. My eye doctor recommended either getting new cases or cleaning the cases in boiling water. She said the biggest no-no she's heard people doing is saving their solution day after day. BLECH!
True-Song True-Song 9 years
You should also use name brand contact solution. Optifree or Renu. And just take your contacts out when you get home. Just an hour or two at night of not wearing them is so good for you! You can boil your case, but then wipe it off instead of air drying because otherwise it will get dust on it. It's really important. I wore my contacts too much and I seriously messes up one of my eyes.
marygrace marygrace 9 years
just use contact lens solution? i know that doesnt kill the bacteria from the tap water but if you don't get any tap water on them to begin with you should be ok?
purple40 purple40 9 years
i was just going to ask that! - about the boiling water.. this is making me nervous!
lattegoodness lattegoodness 9 years
Would rinsing with boiling water help?
cnes89 cnes89 9 years
what my doctor told me was to change contact lens cases every month. I don't follow this religiously, but I do buy new cases every so often. I never wash out my case because my doctor warned me about this.
keiren63 keiren63 9 years
I hadn't worn lenses for a couple of years and went to be fitted for new ones. I found out that I had worn my old ones for too long each day--although when I bought them I was told I could wear them for as long as I needed daily, the optician said I should not have been wearing them for longer than ten to twelve hours a day (which, when you think about getting up, putting them in at 8, heading off to work, then out afterwards...isn't enough time!). If I ever wear contacts regularly again, I will probably go blind. Definitely my worst fear. I've been tempted to get some to wear when I'm going out and stuff...but now with this article, I think I don't need any more risks.
foxie foxie 9 years
Going blind is one of my biggest fears. =(
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