Acanthamoeba keratitis. The value of early diagnosis

Ophthalmology. 1993 Aug;100(8):1238-43. doi: 10.1016/s0161-6420(93)31499-5.


Background: The treatment of Acanthamoeba keratitis has been increasingly successful as diagnoses are made earlier. The authors investigated features of the disease and prognosis in a consecutive series of 15 patients who were treated within 1 month of initial symptoms.

Methods: A database of patients with Acanthamoeba infection presenting between March 1984 and March 1992 was analyzed. The recognition, presenting features, culture methods, results, and treatment of the early cases were reviewed to determine the reasons for a good outcome.

Results: Recognition depended on perineural infiltrates (11/15), uveitis (10/15), limbitis (14/15), and infiltrated epithelium; 6 of 15 patients had epithelial defects, but only 3 of 15 had ring infiltrates or ulcers. Epithelial biopsy was culture-positive in 12 of 15 patients. Most (11/15) patients needed only two anti-amebal drugs. One patient only required penetrating keratoplasty for uncontrolled disease. The final visual acuity was at least 6/12 in all patients who had been treated within 1 month of first symptoms, whereas only 17 (53%) of 32 eyes of patients who presented after 1 month achieved a visual acuity of 6/12.

Conclusions: Subtle diagnostic signs, supported by comprehensive microbiologic investigation, justify the immediate instigation of specific antiamebal therapy. Treatment within 1 month of onset results in a lower morbidity and a good visual outcome.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Acanthamoeba Keratitis / diagnosis*
  • Acanthamoeba Keratitis / drug therapy
  • Administration, Topical
  • Adult
  • Benzamidines / therapeutic use
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neomycin / therapeutic use
  • Prognosis
  • Time Factors
  • Visual Acuity


  • Benzamidines
  • propamidine
  • Neomycin