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Having a shower is a fairly mindless activity. This means that bad habits often go unnoticed. Some of these habits pose a risk to your health. According to Optician Tina Patel of Feel Good Contacts, you should think twice about wearing contact lenses in the shower.
Ms Patel explained: “You can get Acanthamoeba keratitis if contaminated water comes into contact with the eye.”
And the risk of getting Acanthamoeba keratitis is increased when wearing contact lenses in the shower, “so don’t wear lenses when showing”, warned the optician.
What is Acanthamoeba keratitis?
Acanthamoeba keratitis is a very painful and serious eye condition affecting the cornea.
Acanthamoeba is a naturally occurring, free-living amoeba (single-celled organisms).
Acanthamoeba lives in sources such as tap water, sewer systems, soil, swimming pools, hot tubs and saunas.
“When we encounter Acanthamoeba, in general, it doesn’t cause any harm. However, when amoeba infects the cornea, this results in Acanthamoeba Keratitis,” explained the optician.
Ms Patel added: “Although it’s a rare infection, it is more common amongst contact lens users.
“It can have severe complications for sufferers, resulting in visual impairments or permanent vision loss. In severe cases a corneal transplant may be necessary.”
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The optician’s warning comes after a chilling case study revealed a woman had her left eye removed after she showered while wearing contact lenses and it got infected.
Marie Mason caught Acanthamoeba keratitis as a result of the poor practice.
Marie Mason, 54, from the UK, wore 30-day contact lenses and believes the organism entered her eye when she showered without removing them.
“It would have got under the lens then multiplied, so my eye was riddled with it, ” she told BBC News.
Mason first noticed something was wrong in 2015.
“I started feeling like I had a foreign body in my eye like a bit of sand or grit which, when you rub, it will normally go away, but it wouldn’t,” she said, per BBC News.
An optician advised Mason to go to hospital, and doctors diagnosed her with Acanthamoeba keratitis and treated it with various medications, eye drops, and three cornea transplants — but they were all unsuccessful.
“There was just lots of hospital visits, lots of eye drops, lots of operations and procedures and lots of pain,” Mason told SWNS, a UK-based news agency.
After five years, the decision was made to remove her left eye, and she has worn a false replacement since the operation two years ago.
“I do struggle sometimes because my vision on my left side is rubbish, well it’s not there. It’s quite hard walking down the street when you’ve got people whizzing by you, and it makes you jump a bit because you don’t expect it,” she said.
Acanthamoeba keratitis can be difficult to initially detect as the symptoms are very similar to other common eye infections and often can be misdiagnosed.
Some common symptoms include:
- Red eyes
- Increased sensitivity to light
- Extreme eye pain
- Blurred vision
- The constant feeling of something in the eye
- Excessive tearing.
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