• Fri. Sep 22nd, 2023

Flesh-eating bacteria eats a man's eye during sleep; all you want to know about acanthamoeba keratitis

BySymbels Journal

Mar 1, 2023

If you are someone who occasionally sleeps with their contant lenses on, here’s something that may lead you to drop this habit. A 21-year-old young man from Florida (Michael Krumholz) who went partially blind in his left eye after waking up from a 40-minute nap with his contact lenses on, still cannot believe that a flesh-eating bacteria could eat his eye and completely turn around his otherwise healthy life. What started as a vision distortion soon turned into excruciating pain and a gradual loss of vision in the affected eye. (Also read: Yoga expert on 3 simple exercises to improve eyesight)

The man’s eye reportedly got infected with Acanthamoeba keratitis, a severe infection that impacts cornea, the clear outer covering of the eye and can result in permanent vision loss. The parasite is found in soil, dust and fresh bodies of water such as lakes. Krumholz now awaiting a cornea implant which could restore his vision partially, is still in excruciating pain and his eyes have become extremely sensitive to light due to which he is unable to step out of his house.

What is Acanthamoeba keratitis, the eye-eating bacteria that could make you blind

“Acanthamoeba keratitis is a severe infection that impacts the clear outer covering of the eye known as the cornea. The infection is caused by a microscopic, single-celled organism called an amoeba, which infiltrates the eye and begins to consume the layers of the cornea. As it progresses, the amoeba destroys tissue and moves through the eye. This particular type of amoeba, known as acanthamoeba, can be found in various environments, such as the air, soil, lakes, and oceans. However, most cases of infection occur as a result of exposure to fresh water sources, including tap water, swimming pools, hot tubs, showers, and sewage systems,” says Dr. Anurag Shandil, MS, FVRS (Sankara), FRCS, FICO (UK), MRCS Ed, Advanced Retina, Laser & ROP Specialist, Narayana Nethradhama, Delhi.

Acanthamoeba keratitis: Who’s at risk

Dr Shandil says that although it is rare, acanthamoeba keratitis is a serious infection that can cause eye pain, permanent vision loss, and even complete blindness and it’s most common in people who wear contact lenses. However, anyone can get the infection. The infection can affect one or both eyes, but it is not contagious.

Acanthamoeba keratitis: Ways to prevent

Dr Shandil suggests following ways to avoid this infection:

– Avoid coming into contact with contaminated water, which could include freshwater lakes, rivers, and hot springs.

– Fill your contact lens storage case with a fresh solution every time you open it.

– Never sleep in your contact lenses.

– Avoid showering, swimming, or using a hot tub while wearing contact lenses.

– Don’t use someone else’s contact lenses.

– Follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations for replacing your contact lenses regularly.

– Use only disinfecting solution, not saline solution, to rinse and store your contact lenses. Never use tap water.

– Visit your optometrist or ophthalmologist for regular eye exams.

Acanthamoeba keratitis: Treatment

“The primary treatment for acanthamoeba keratitis is a topical antiseptic, which is a substance that fights against microorganisms. This antiseptic is typically applied directly to the surface of the affected eye, and treatment may continue for six months to a year. In some cases, a healthcare provider may need to scrape off a portion of the cornea to allow the medication to penetrate deeper into the eye,” says the expert.

Antibiotics or antifungal medications may also be recommended to help combat the infection. Steroids or pain relief medications may be prescribed to alleviate pain and reduce inflammation.

“For cases of advanced acanthamoeba keratitis that do not improve with topical therapy, surgery may be necessary. Penetrating keratoplasty (PK) is a surgical procedure that involves a full-thickness corneal transplant,” says Dr Shandil.

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