The Drs: Acanthamoeba Attacks Contact Lens & Melanoma on the Rise

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The Doctors: Acanthamoeba Eats Away at Woman’s Eye

Ashley said she felt pain one day in her left eye after she went swimming. Her mother drove her to the eye doctor where she was told there were cysts in her eye that needed to be removed. The doctors began drilling holes in Ashley’s left eye and found that her eye was actually being eaten by a parasite called acanthamoeba.

Ashley told The Doctors her eye doctor told her it happened because she went swimming with her contact lenses in and did not clean them properly when she got out of the water. She was lucky it only infected one eye though. Ashley said she has always kept her right and left contacts in different containers which meant her right eye was free from the parasite.

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She told The Doctors her eye felt like it had a toothache.

Contact Lens Wearers can Contract Acanthamoeba Parasite

The Drs: Acanthamoeba Attacks Contact Lens & Melanoma on the Rise

The Doctors talked with one young woman who said her eye was almost eaten by the parasite acanthamoeba because she went swimming with contact lenses.

The Doctors called on the help of contact lens specialist Donna Weiss to answer their questions about the parasite.

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She explained that the parasite acanthamoeba is something we come into contact with every single day. She said the parasite lives on the contact lens and feeds off the bacteria on the lens. Ashley could have been infected with the parasite because it was in her contact lens case or right from the water. As soon as the parasite is on the contact lens, it can attach to the cornea and start eating away at the eye.

This type of parasite latches onto people with contact lens around 85 percent of the time but it has been known to get into the eye of someone without contacts as well. It usually happens after some kind of trauma to the eye, but Weiss said she has seen it in infants as well after they have been playing outside.

Contact Lens Solution Doesn’t Get Rid of Parasite

Weiss said simply using contact lens solution will not get rid of the acanthamoeba. Since the FDA does not require contact lens solution companies to test their solution against the parasite, she is skeptical many of the solutions work to rid you of the parasite.

Precautions to Prevent Acanthamoeba

Weiss said there are some precautions everyone can take to prevent acanthamoeba from eating their eyeballs:

  • Use daily lenses – If you can not afford the daily lenses, Weiss suggested cleaning the contact lens case as often as possible. She added that the bacteria may not die within one day of cleaning the case so it is better to continually clean it. 
  • Never go in the water with contact lenses

Melanoma Accounts for 3 Percent of Pediatric Cancers

The Doctors revealed that melanoma accounts for three percent of all pediatric cancers in America and has nearly doubled in children in the last 30 years. Dr. Jim Sears said adolescent females between the ages of 15 and 19 are the most susceptible, although studies have shown infants can develop the cancer as well.

The Doctors suggested using sunscreen as the number one deterrent against melanoma. They also recommended checking for changes in skin color on children and for any lesions that need to be looked at by a doctor.

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