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In April 2006, there was a rapid outbreak of the rare sight threatening infection known as fusarium keratitis. This outbreak caused widespread panic about the safety of wearing contact lenses when it was revealed that the majority of those with the infection were contact lens wearers. However, one particular contact lens solution was determined to be the cause of the infection. While the reasons the solution caused the infection are not yet known, those who wear contact lenses can be sure they are not at an increased risk for the infection. If you think you have an infection, or are showing signs of an infection from your contact lenses, consult your eye care professional for immediate treatment.
Although the Centers for Disease Control has recommended contact lens wearers not use certain solutions, there is no indication that any other contact lens solutions can result in fusarium keratitis. Prevention methods for fusarium keratitis include washing hands thoroughly before handling contact lenses, follow the wear and replacement scheduled prescribed carefully, always use fresh cleaning and storage solutions and seeking medical attention if prescription changes suddenly or eye pain is experienced. All of these good hygiene practices can help to prevent fusarium keratitis.
The treatment for fusarium keratitis involves an intensive treatment where natamycin drops are used every 30 to 60 minutes throughout the day. In addition to the drops, oral antifungal medications may be used as well. If the infection does not respond to the topical and oral medications, a surgical procedure may be required. This procedure will likely entail a corneal transplant in a case where the cornea is damaged beyond repair.
Lens wearers should be aware of the symptoms of the potentially sight threatening infection, fusarium keratitis. Those who wear contact lenses may be at an increased risk for developing the infection. If any of the symptoms of the infection are present, the individual should consult with their eye care provider immediately. The symptoms which often accompany fusarium keratitis may include:
Fusarium keratitis is a serious corneal fungal infection that may result in permanent vision loss if left untreated. Fusarium keratitis is rare but the symptoms should be investigated to ensure the eye is not damaged permanently by the infection. Those who suspect they have an eye infection should schedule an appointment with their eye care provider immediately. Symptoms of fusarium keratitis include the following:
• Blurred vision which occurs suddenly
• Redness of the eye
• Pain in the eye
• Increased sensitivity to light
• Increased tearing
Fusarium keratitis is a serious infection which can result in loss of sight. For this reason it is important for health care providers to take each potential case of the infection seriously. Health care providers should take the following steps when dealing with a potential case of fusarium keratitis:
• In a case of microbial keratitis, check for a fungal infection
• Analyze a specimen in the laboratory before commencing treatment
• Report all cases of the infection to the FDA
The exact causes of fusarium keratitis are not known, but there are certain risk factors which exist. These risk factors include trauma resulting in plant material entering the eye, chronic eye disease and a compromised immune system. Contact lens use has also been linked to fusarium keratitis although it is not believed that contact lenses directly cause the infection. In most cases, misuse of the contact lenses and poor hygiene contribute to the risk for fusarium keratitis.