Eye Post #5: The Science Behind Dirty Contact Lenses & Amoebas

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Some of you may remember the headline from months ago regarding a Taiwanese girl who supposedly had amoebas eat away at her eyeballs. Bleh.

I'm in my second month of school in the opticianry program, and I've finally learned the science behind what happened to this girl and her unfortunate eyeballs. So what exactly happened?

Long story short: A girl wore her disposable monthly contact lenses for six months straight without taking it out when sleeping or washing her face. Dirty water was used and her contact lenses became a host site for amoebas, which ate away at her corneas (you can read the full story here).

Taken from wheatoneye.com

The acquired disease was called acanthamoeba keratitis. Keratitis means "inflammation of the cornea". The cornea is the clear layer that sits over the iris and pupil. Amoebas in the dirty water ahw used is what caused the inflammation and deterioration of her corneas. The amoebas ate at the surface layer of the cornea, and eventually caused her corneas to shrink to half its normal size. This caused a big problem with her vision because the corneas play an important role in helping light to focus at a single point in the eye. With defective corneas, this girl probably had constant blurry vision all the time and pain due to the amoebas feasting away at her corneas. If this wasn't treated sooner, she may have lost her vision completely.

So what's the lesson behind this story?

1. Never wear your contact lenses longer than what they're made for. If they're dailies, only wear them for one day! If they're monthlies, only wear them for a month! Contact lenses aren't capable of staying sanitized forever.

2. Always keep your contact lenses in your contact lens cleaning solution. It helps keep all the germs away. If your contact lenses come in contact with regular water from the tap, it's best to dispose them and use a new pair.

To the contact lens wearers out there: keep your eyes safe and your lenses clean!

Until next time, Des


  1. that is a scary story. But I can't even imagine keeping the contact lenses on months. What is that girl thinking? I wear the monthly kind and dispose them on monthly basis.


    1. It's indeed scary to read about, but this is what happens if people are not informed of the negative consequences to hygiene and health. Definitely happy to hear that you're doing exactly what's needed to keep your eyes in good health!


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