If you wear contact lenses, you may already take measures to keep them clean and free from bacteria. However, if you participate in certain water activities, you face the possibility of contracting acanthamoeba keratitis, caused by an amoeba that lives in the water and can become trapped under your contact lenses. To avoid this, follow the tips below.
Only Use Your Prescribed Solutions To Clean Your Lenses
When your optometrist prescribed your contact lenses, they may have also given you advice on the most appropriate cleaning solution to use for them. If so, only use what was suggested by your eye doctor to clean them. If no solutions were prescribed, use only those recommended for your brand of contacts.
This is because other types of solutions, including saline eye drops or tap water, could create an environment that alters the pH of your eye's natural tears. When this happens, it could turn your tears into a nurturing environment for the acanthamoeba to thrive. Contact lens solutions counteract this by equalizing the pH to keep them from growing.
Also, under no circumstances should you use tap water to clean your contact lenses. You could introduce the amoebas directly to your corneas, for reasons described in the next section. If you are out of cleaning solution, place them in your case until you can purchase more, preferably as soon as possible. If you have disposable contact lenses, discard them, and put in a new pair.
Always Remove Your Lenses Before Any Activity Involving Water
Since the acanthamoeba lives and thrives in fresh water sources, it is imperative that you always remove your contact lenses before engaging in any activity involving water. If you do not, the amoebas can become lodged between the lenses and your eyes, where they can attach to your cornea and lead to infection and inflammation.
Even when the water has been treated with chlorine, such as that in your home or a pool, there is still the possibility that the amoebas could survive. Before you go swimming or take a shower, remove your lenses, and clean them thoroughly with your prescribed cleaning solutions. Once you have finished with your activity, thoroughly wash your hands before replacing your contacts, in case any parasites have attached themselves to your fingertips.
Using the above tips can help you keep from getting an acanthamoeba infection in your eyes when you wear contact lenses. However, if you start to notice symptoms such as red, watery, painful eyes, you may want to schedule an eye exam with your optometrist for prompt diagnosis and treatment. Contact a company like Kamloops Ebata Eyecare Optometry for more information.