Preventing Contact Contamination

Published: Sep. 2, 2004 at 11:50 PM CDT|Updated: Dec. 12, 2014 at 4:11 AM CST
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If you wear contact lenses, how careful are you about keeping them clean? If a parasite climbs on to your contacts, you could end up with big problems -- Janet Donelly did. She's blind in one eye now because of a serious eye infection.

Acanthamoeba is a parasite that lives everywhere. It's in dirt and in plain old water from your tap to your swimming pool, and Janet knows now that a popular breeding ground for that tiny bug is your contact lens storage case.

"I did use water to clean out the case itself like anybody when it gets dirty. You put it under the water and you wash it off just as you would a pot or a pan," says Donnelly, infection patient.

"The infections are very difficult to get to go away. If we catch it after several weeks, or even several months, you could end up with permanent scarring and permanently decreased vision," says Dr. Christopher Rapuano, cornea specialist.

Dr. Rapuano says rinsing that case with soap and water may be to blame for Janet's eye infection because soap and water won't kill Acanthamoeba. Instead, the best way to clean your empty contact lens case is to put it in boiling water. That advice is on the box when you get your contact lens case, but a lot of people don't stop to read the small print.

Remember to replace your case about every three months to avoid any problems. Also, the folks at Ginter Eye Care tell us after boiling your case, rinse it with saline solution and let it air dry with the top off.