Acanthamoeba keratitis. A growing problem in soft and hard contact lens wearers

Ophthalmology. 1987 Dec;94(12):1654-61.


Eleven contact lens-wearing patients presented with Acanthamoeba keratitis. Eight cases were culture- and/or stain-positive for Acanthamoeba and three were presumed to have Acanthamoeba keratitis based on history and clinical findings. Six wore daily wear soft contact lenses, two wore extended-wear soft contact lenses, one wore a polymethylmethacrylate hard contact lens, one wore a gas-permeable hard contact lens, and one wore a Saturn lens (combined hard and soft lens). Four patients used distilled water and salt tablet saline, three used tap water and salt tablet saline, two used tap water rinse, two used well water rinse or storage, and one used intravenous (IV) saline. It is apparent that all contact lens wearers are at some risk for Acanthamoeba keratitis developing if proper contact lens care is not maintained. Of great concern is the inability of most current chemical sterilization methods to kill the organism if the lens becomes contaminated. Heat disinfection will kill Acanthamoeba trophozoites and cysts but the lens must not be placed into contaminated solutions afterward. Prevention is very important because medical and surgical treatment failures are frequent. Eye care practitioners who fit contact lenses are advised to use heat disinfection for low-water content stock soft contact lenses, and to use hydrogen peroxide without a catalyst for a minimum of 6 hours for all other stock lens fitting sets, to specifically inquire about contact lens care habits used by their patients, and to discourage the use of homemade saline solutions.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acanthamoeba
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Amebiasis* / prevention & control
  • Animals
  • Contact Lenses / adverse effects*
  • Contact Lenses, Hydrophilic / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Hot Temperature
  • Humans
  • Keratitis / etiology*
  • Male
  • Sterilization / methods