It may not be a good idea to shower or go swimming with contact lenses.

Doctors have described the case of a woman who nearly lost her vision in one eye due to an infection that she got after swimming and showering while wearing her contact lenses.

In a brief report published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday, Lanxing Fu, of the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, in the United Kingdom, and colleagues that the 41-year-old woman in England experienced pain, blurry vision, and sensitivity to light in her affected eye.

What Is Acanthamoeba Keratitis?

Doctors eventually discovered she had a rare condition called acanthamoeba keratitis, which affected only one to two per million contact lens wearers.

Although rare, this eye infection can cause permanent visual impairment or blindness. The U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it is caused by a microscopic, free-living amoeba called Acanthamoeba, which can be found in air, soil, and bodies of water such as lakes and oceans.

Acanthamoeba keratitis may occur when the amoeba infects the cornea, the transparent outer covering of the eye.

The patient described in the report had been experiencing symptoms prior to seeking medical care. To diagnose acanthamoeba keratitis, doctors take a culture of corneal scraping and confirm the presence of the amoeba by putting a dye in the affected eye. If the amoeba is present, the infection will change color turning from hazy brown to bright fluorescent green.

"Cultures of corneal scrapings grew Acanthamoeba polyphaga, and a diagnosis of acanthamoeba keratitis was made," Lanxing Fu and colleagues wrote.


Infection is treated with prescription medications. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that the eye care provider will determine the best treatment option for the patient.

The woman described in the case was given antimicrobial drops, but her vision remained impaired because of scarring and the formation of cataract as a result of the infection. A year later, she underwent surgery to repair the cornea, which somewhat restored her vision.

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