Portsmouth optician explains why tap water could make contact lens wearers blind

Picture: Professor Dart/University College London/PA Wire
Picture: Professor Dart/University College London/PA Wire

CONTACT lens wearers have been urged to look after their eyes following an outbreak of a rare infection which can cause blindness.

Moorfields Eye Hospital in London has seen a rise in the number of cases of acanthamoeba keratitis since 2011.

Optician Anne Gill

Optician Anne Gill

The preventable infection causes the front surface of the eye, the cornea, to become painful and inflamed and contact lens wearers are most at risk.

Between 2000 and 2003, eight to 10 cases per year were recorded at the hospital, according to a study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.

This rose to between 35 to 65 cases annually from 2011 to 2016.

Anne Gill from Anne Gill Eyecare in North End says that it is contact with water that is causing the infection.

She explained: ‘All contact lens wearers need to make sure that their lenses never get near tap water – that is what contains this bug.

‘People should never rinse their case in tap water, never shower with them on and never go swimming with them either.’

Anne says that while this is common knowledge to many, people buying lenses online are not getting this advice from opticians.

She said: ‘This isn’t a new bug, but the figures are on the up because people are buying their contact lenses online and not getting advice from their opticians.

‘To clean your contact lenses, you should only ever use contact lens solution – and don’t do it over a sink.’

The most severely affected patients are left with less than 25 per cent of their vision or become blind after having the disease.