Understanding Acanthamoeba Keratitis: Eye Infection Insights Eye Care January 9, 2024

Understanding Acanthamoeba Keratitis: Eye Infection Insights

Acanthamoeba Keratitis occurs when a microscopic, free-living amoeba called Acanthamoeba infects the cornea—the transparent outer covering of the eye. It is a rare yet sight-threatening condition that can result in permanent vision loss if left untreated.

Otherwise known as corneal inflammation, Acanthamoeba Keratitis often affects contact lens users; however, non-users are also susceptible to the disease. Despite its rarity, Acanthamoeba Keratitis requires timely intervention because of its severe and painful symptoms. At Eyeonce Eye Clinic, our team of skilled ophthalmologists and advanced technologies can provide you with comprehensive treatment options for this eye condition.

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Symptoms

Acanthamoeba Keratitis can be characterized by a range of symptoms that primarily affect the eye’s cornea, which include:

  • Intense eye pain and redness – Extreme eye pain that worsens over time is one of the most noticeable and common symptoms of Acanthamoeba Keratitis. The eye may become intensely red and inflamed. The pain level can be described as constant or stinging that persists even at rest.
  • Blurred or hazy vision – Due to the damage to the cornea, which interferes with the standard passage of light, objects may appear less sharp and clear, affecting everyday activities that require visual clarity.
  • Photophobia (sensitivity to light) – Bright lights, sunlight, or even indoor lighting can trigger discomfort and pain in the infected eye. This sensitivity exacerbates the overall discomfort experienced by the individual suffering from Acanthamoeba Keratitis.
  • Excessive tearing – Tearing is one of the eye’s natural responses to infection and irritation, which can lead to aggravated discomfort and blurry vision.
  • A feeling of a foreign body – Many individuals with Acanthamoeba Keratitis report feeling like a foreign object or particle is trapped in their eye. This sensation contributes to persistent discomfort and irritation.

It is essential to note that symptoms of Acanthamoeba Keratitis can mimic those of bacterial or viral keratitis, resulting in misdiagnosis and delayed treatment. That is why it is essential to seek immediate medical attention from reliable eye care professionals like Dr. Paik Dong Won and Dr. Jung Sae Rom for prompt diagnosis and treatment.

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Risk Factors

Acanthamoeba Keratitis is most common among contact lens users; however, without proper precautions, anyone may potentially acquire it through these scenarios:

  • Exposure to contaminated water – Activities such as swimming in lakes, rivers, or hot tubs, using inadequately disinfected swimming pools, or even showering with the water that harbors the Acanthamoeba organism can increase the risk of infection.
  • Improper use of contact lenses – Failure to disinfect or clean contact lenses using the appropriate solutions for lens care and wearing contact lenses while swimming or showering can introduce Acanthamoeba to the eyes.
  • Corneal abrasions or injuries – A scratched or injured cornea can create an entry point for Acanthamoeba into the eye, especially if the individual is exposed to activities that may increase the risk of corneal abrasions like wearing ill-fitting contact lenses, using dirty or damaged lenses, or accidentally rubbing the eye with a foreign object.
  • Reduced immune response – People with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to Acanthamoeba Keratitis. A compromised immune response can make it harder for the body to fight infection effectively.

Once the Acanthamoeba gains access to the eye, it can attach to the cornea’s surface and begin to infect it. It is imperative to consult your ophthalmologist from your trusted eye center, like Eyeonce Eye Clinic, if classic symptoms of this condition start to manifest.

Diagnosis and Treatment

At Eyeonce, we diagnose Acanthamoeba Keratitis with a combination of clinical evaluation, specialized tests, and the expertise of our expert ophthalmologists. The diagnostic process may involve:

  • Patient history and symptoms – Our eye care professionals will discuss your symptoms, medical history, and any recent activities that might have exposed you to Acanthamoeba.
  • Slit-lamp examination – This is done to examine the cornea’s surface closely. Acanthamoeba infections often cause distinctive patterns of corneal damage, which can aid in diagnosis.
  • Corneal scraping – This test is done to get a sample of the cornea’s surface that will be analyzed in the laboratory to examine the presence of Acanthamoeba organisms.
  • Culturing – Corneal samples can be cultured in a laboratory setting to allow the growth of Acanthamoeba organisms since culturing aids in definitive identification and guides treatment decisions.
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) – PCR testing can detect the genetic material of Acanthamoeba, offering a particular method for confirming the infection.

Once confirmed that you have Acanthamoeba Keratitis, our ophthalmologists will create a customized treatment plan for you which may include the following:

  • Topical medications – These include specialized antimicrobial eye drops containing agents such as polyhexamethylene biguanide (PHMB) or propamidine (Brolene), which target and eliminate Acanthamoeba organisms in the cornea’s surface. 
  • Oral medications – In more severe Acanthamoeba Keratitis cases, oral medications like itraconazole may be added to enhance the effectiveness of topical treatments, helping combat the infection within the body.
  • Pain management – Analgesic eye drops or ointments can be prescribed to alleviate the intense eye pain due to Acanthamoeba Keratitis.
  • Corneal healing aids – Special bandage contact lenses may protect the cornea and promote healing, primarily when the infection has led to significant corneal damage. In rare cases of severe damage, a corneal transplant might be considered.

On top of these possible treatment options, you are encouraged to frequent follow-up appointments to monitor progress and make necessary adjustments based on your eye’s response.

Why choose Eyeonce Eye Clinic Gangnam for Acanthamoeba Keratitis treatment?

Utmost Patient Care

Our eye care professionals and staff ensure to give you your money’s worth. We guarantee you receive the best medication possible and assure you that you are guided and understood, making you feel comfortable and confident at every step. 

Comprehensive Consultation

Eyeonce Eye Clinic offers comprehensive eye examinations to evaluate your condition and determine the best Acanthamoeba Keratitis treatment. Our ophthalmologists take their time to cater to your questions and address your concerns, ensuring you make an informed decision about our vision correction options.

Expert Eye Doctors

Our ophthalmologists, Head Director Dr. Paik Dong Won and Medical Director Dr. Jung Sae Rom, are highly knowledgeable and skilled in treating Acanthamoeba Keratitis. They always use the latest techniques and technologies to ensure optimal results.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Yes. Untreated Acanthamoeba Keratitis can potentially lead to vision loss. That is why timely diagnosis and treatment are essential to prevent further complications.

Certain infectious keratitis, like viral keratitis, can be contagious. It is essential to practice good hygiene to prevent the spreading of the infection.

Yes. Acanthamoeba Keratitis can potentially affect both eyes, though it may develop independently in each eye.

Conclusion

Despite its rarity, Acanthamoeba Keratitis still demands timely intervention due to its potential to lead to vision loss. By understanding its causes and symptoms and seeking immediate medical care from trusted eye centers like Eyeonce Eye Clinic, you can safeguard your eyes from this sight-threatening infection. Book an appointment with our ophthalmologists today or visit our website to learn more about our services. 

For patients who have had treatment
with us in the past, anyone you refer will get their eye exam for free (value 200 000KRW) and a loyalty discount