Bad Showering Habits Really Can Make You Go Blind
Apparently, it's true.
I mean showering is basic. Simple. Easy. There's really only one way to do it. So, how can showering possibly cause me or you to lose their eyesight?
Acanthamoeba is found worldwide; most commonly in soil, dust, fresh water, brackish water, and sea water (basically everywhere). Acanthamoeba exists in two forms: an active, infective trophozoite and a dormant, environmentally hardy cyst. Trophozoites reproduce by mitosis and feed on a variety of organisms. In its resilient double-walled cyst form, Acanthamoeba can survive for years under adverse conditions: extreme temperatures and pH, desiccation, and chemical exposure.
This little single-cell ameba also likes to live in your swimming pools, hot tubs, drinking water systems, heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems and humidifiers.
Acanthamoeba keratitis varies greatly from person to person. Affected individuals may complain of:
- Eye pain
- Eye redness
- Blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light
- Sensation of something in the eye
- Excessive tearing
So now that we know this little bugger is everywhere, how do we keep it out of our body? For most it's really not an issue, but for corrective lens (contact lens) wearers it's simple...
TAKE OUT YOUR CONTACT LENSES!
Yes, seriously; and do it before you shower. Acanthamoeba keratitis is a rare disease that can affect anyone, but it's most common in individuals who wear contact lenses. According to the CDC, an estimated 85% of cases occur in contact lens users in the United States.
For people who wear contact lenses, certain practices can increase the risk of getting Acanthamoeba keratitis:
- Storing and handling lenses improperly
- Disinfecting lenses improperly (such as using tap water or topping off solutions when cleaning the lenses or lens case)
- Swimming, using a hot tub, or showering while wearing lenses
- Coming into contact with contaminated water
- Having a history of trauma to the cornea
Good news, as of now, no known case of transmission between people has occurred. This infection made headlines recently when a women in the UK had to have her left eye removed after she showered while wearing contact lenses and became infected. Marie Mason, 54, from the UK, wore 30-day contact lenses and believes the organism entered her eye when she showered without removing them. Acanthamoeba keratitis can be difficult to detect as the symptoms are similar to other common eye infections and can be misdiagnosed.