The American Academy of Ophthalmology today announced a contact lens microbiology workshop on Sept. 12 aimed at preventing Acanthamoeba keratitis, a rare infection among contact lens wearers that causes severe eye pain, redness, light sensitivity and potential vision loss. The event is jointly sponsored by the Academy, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Contact Lens Association of Ophthalmologists, the American Academy of Optometry and the American Optometric Association.
Acanthamoeba keratitis is caused by a parasite that can be found in water. Infections are often associated with poor hygiene and practices that expose contact lenses to water, such as swimming or showering while wearing contact lenses, and rinsing or storing lenses in water rather than disinfecting solution. While cases rarely occur, they can be difficult to diagnose and treat. Recent research found it takes an average of 27 days to diagnose Acanthamoeba, with 33 percent of the patients requiring a cornea transplant. At the workshop, scientists, clinicians and industry experts will discuss methods for testing how effective contact lens care products are at disinfecting against Acanthamoeba, as well as other topics, such as emerging microbial threats.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA issued a patient alert about Acanthamoeba keratitis in 2007 after 138 cases emerged following sales of a new multipurpose contact lens solution, which was then recalled by the manufacturer. The infections created a growing concern over the organism and how to test for its presence in contact lens products. Today, there remains no required, standardized test method for disinfection efficacy against microbes like Acanthamoeba in contact lens products.
"While Acanthamoeba keratitis is rare, any cases are of concern as we currently do not have an FDA-approved, commercially available therapy for this type of infection," said Thomas Steinemann, M.D., the Academy's representative at the workshop and an ophthalmology professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. "The course of treatment is long and unpleasant, and patients do have a chance of losing their vision."
The workshop, "Revamping Microbiological Test Methods for Contact Lenses, Products, and Accessories to Protect Health and Ensure Safety," will take place Sept.12, 2014, from 8 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the FDA White Oak Campus, 10903 New Hampshire Avenue in Silver Spring, Md.
American Academy of Ophthalmology