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Poor lens care endangers the eye
If you wear soft contact lenses for too long and do not adhere to recommended hygiene standards, you risk a fungal infection in the eye, which in the worst case can lead to blindness. A Bavarian research team warns against this.
Researchers at the Institute for Hygiene and Microbiology at the University of Würzburg warn of a mold of the Fusarium genus, which can contaminate contact lenses if used incorrectly. This can result in severe reddening of the eye, considerable pain, deterioration in vision or even an eye amputation. The team reported this in the "Journal of Clinical Microbiology".
Young contact lens wearers particularly at risk
"Unlike many other fungal infections, young, healthy patients are often affected here," explains Professor Oliver Kurzai from the University of Würzburg. The treatment of a mold infection on the eye is often difficult, according to the expert, because fungi often show resistance to available medicines.
Soft contact lenses as a risk factor
As part of a study from 2017, the researchers around Kurzai examined the risk factors of fungal infections with the mold Fusarium in Germany for the first time. The investigation painted a clear picture: "The most important risk factor is wearing soft contact lenses," emphasizes the professor.
Serious consequences are not uncommon
The team analyzed 22 cases of corneal infections from fungi. "15 of the 22 cases were clearly infections with the Fusarium mold," Kurzai summarizes. Corneal transplantation was required in nine of these 15 cases. In three cases, the entire eye had to be surgically removed and replaced with a glass eye.
Observe hygiene rules
The experts advise all wearers of soft contact lenses to comply with the hygiene rules when wearing soft contact lenses. This includes, for example:
- Never wear soft contact lenses longer than recommended.
- Read the instructions for use and take into account the hygiene information contained therein.
- Do not touch contact lenses with unwashed hands.
- Use suitable storage solutions and hygiene systems for the lens type.
- Never mix different hygiene systems.
- Use a sterile, unserved saline solution to rinse and insert the lens.
- Also observe the hygiene rules for the contact lens case.
- Contact an ophthalmologist if you notice anything unusual.
Research team asks for help
Since the 22 cases examined so far form an insufficient database, the research team is asking for support from ophthalmologists. "We therefore appeal to all ophthalmologists to send as many samples of suspected cases as possible to the registry for fungal keratitis so that the database is getting better and better," said Kurzai. With the help of the register, the team wants to analyze which treatments are particularly successful with the stubborn pathogens. (vb)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek
- Walther G., Stasch S., Kurzai O., and others: Fusarium Keratitis in Germany, Journal of Clinical Microbiology, 2017, jcm.asm.org
- University of Würzburg: When molds destroy the eye (accessed: December 12, 2019), uni-wuerzburg.de