Uh, this is horrifying.
Microscopic water-dwelling critters called amoebae are creeping into human eyeballs, with the potential to cause permanent blindness.
Acanthamoeba keratitis is a rare disease, but has been documented worldwide, and is typically associated with contact lens use and contaminated swimming pools.
Australian researchers reviewed 34 cases in Melbourne that occurred over an 18-year period. Patients presented with eye pain, redness and swelling, a ring-shaped corneal ulcer, and thinning of the eye tissue. An overwhelming number of the cases (86 per cent) occurred in contact lens wearers, six of whom admitted to swimming with their contacts in, while seven said they'd rinsed theirs with tap water.
Most of the cases were treated successfully with medication, while a small number required surgery and experienced vision impairment. But before you switch to glasses and avoid the pool this summer, the researchers say that if contact lens wearers follow their doctor's instructions and proper hygiene procedures, their eyeballs should remain creature-free.
Well, that's good news. Everyone wants creature-free eyeballs, after all. [BMJ]
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