Purpose: To establish the incidence, etiology and risk factors for microbial keratitis (MK) in Hong Kong.
Methods: Two hundred and twenty-three new cases of presumed MK were recruited over a period of 17 months and comprehensive microbiologic studies performed. A nested case-control study was pursued for patients wearing contact lenses (CLW) to determine risk factors for MK with regards to types of CLW and hygiene practice.
Results: Of the 223 patients recruited, 59 (26%) wore contact lenses. Corneal scrapes yielded positive cultures from 77 patients (35% overall, 56 non-CLW, 21 CLW). Two hundred and six CLW volunteers were recruited to participate in the case-control study, of whom 135 were matched with 45 CLW patients. The annual incidence of MK was 0.63 per 10,000 population and 3.4 per 10,000 CLW with rates for daily, extended and rigid lens wear of 3.09, 9.30 and 0.44 per 10,000 CLW respectively. Pseudomonas aeruginosa was the dominant bacterial pathogen. Six cases of Acanthamoeba keratitis occurred, five in CLW (incidence 0.33 per 10,000 CLW) and one following corneal abrasion. Non-CLW developed MK at a peak age of 73, which is 10 years younger than expected for Scotland and USA.
Conclusions: Previous ocular surface disease and trauma were the main risk factors for MK in Hong Kong. CLW appears at least as safe as that found in Scotland and the USA. Acanthamoeba keratitis was detected but with an incidence rate five times lower than Scotland. Factors predisposing hydrogel CLWs to MK, that were statistically significant, included overnight wear, poor hygiene and smoking.