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Soft contact lenses can trigger fungal infections
A recent preliminary investigation showed that soft contact lenses increase the risk of developing dangerous fungal infections in the eye. In this context, ophthalmologists point to strict hygiene rules.
If you use soft contact lenses, you should strictly adhere to the hygiene rules - otherwise there can be dangerous fungal infections on the eye. This is what doctors point out to the “Week of Fungal Diseases”. A current preliminary examination underlines the warning.
In the beginning there is severe reddening of the eyes and pain
Anyone who does not observe the hygiene rules when handling soft contact lenses accepts a great risk: molds can contaminate the lenses and infect the cornea of the eye. Those affected usually notice this through severe reddening of the eye, sometimes considerable pain and deterioration in vision.
- Place soft contact lenses in the container with the storage liquid in a sunny, warm window seat? Difficult.
- Use the storage solution or the rinsing liquid several times for economy or longer than prescribed? Questionable.
- Just use contact lenses that should only be worn for a day or a week longer than intended? Risky.
"Unlike many other fungal infections, young, healthy patients are often affected here," says Professor Oliver Kurzai, who holds the only chair in Germany for medical microbiology and mycology (teaching of fungal diseases) at the University of Würzburg. Kurzai also heads the National Reference Center for Invasive Fungal Infections based in Jena.
Treatment of such an infection on the eye is difficult because the fungi are often resistant to the available medication. The consequences can be dramatic: corneal transplants are very often necessary, in worst cases the last resort is to surgically remove the infected eye and replace it with a glass eye.
Data published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology
Data on corneal infections caused by fungi are now available for Germany for the first time. Kurzai's team published them in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology at the end of July 2017 with partners from all over Germany. A clear result: "The most important risk factor is wearing soft contact lenses," says the Würzburg professor.
A total of 22 cases were analyzed for the study, which were reported by ophthalmologists to the National Register of Fungal Keratitis (Corneal Infections from Fungi). The register has only been in existence since the beginning of 2016; it was set up by the National Reference Center for Invasive Fungal Infections and the Eye Clinic of the University Hospital Düsseldorf.
In their analyzes, the experts identified various molds of the Fusarium genus as the cause of the infections. "15 of the 22 cases were clearly infections with these molds," says Kurzai. Corneal transplants were necessary in nine patients and the eye had to be removed in three. In the remaining seven of the 22 patients, the symptoms had either bacterial or other, more harmless causes.
Ophthalmologists should report infections to the registry
From a statistical perspective, 22 cases are an insufficient database. "We therefore appeal to all ophthalmologists to send as many samples of suspected cases as possible to the registry for fungal keratitis so that the database is getting better and better," said Kurzai. "With the help of the register, we want to analyze, among other things, which therapies are particularly successful and which pathogens we are dealing with at all."
Worldwide "Fungal Disease Week" announced
The physicians are launching the appeal to the ophthalmologists on the occasion of the first "Fungal Disease Awareness Week" from August 14 to 18, 2017. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), based in Atlanta (USA), would like to launch this week ) increase international awareness of severe yeast infections.
The CDC indicate that many fungal infections worldwide are recognized too late or not at all. At the same time, the pathogens of the infections change, and the development of resistance in more and more cases makes efficient treatment difficult.
(Fusarium Keratitis in Germany. Walther G, Stasch S, Kaerger K, Hamprecht A, Roth M, Cornely OA, Geerling G, Mackenzie CR, Kurzai O, von Lilienfeld-Toal M. J Clin Microbiol. 2017 Jul 26. pii: JCM .00649-17. Doi: 10.1128 / JCM.00649-17. Epub ahead of print, PMID: 28747368)