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Contact Lens Cases Often Contaminated

Study finds germs appear even in the presence of disinfecting solutions

THURSDAY, Nov. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Contamination is common in contact lens storage cases, say Israeli researchers who found at least one pathogen in two-thirds of 30 storage cases used by 16 people.

The tests of contact lens disinfection solution in the storage cases found that Pseudomonas -- a known cause of severe corneal infections -- was the most common type of pathogen (41 percent), while fungal pathogens accounted for about 3.3 percent of contamination.

Pathogens were found in all the types of storage solutions examined in the study, and some of the solutions tested positive for pathogens every time they were tested. These pathogens can cause keratitis, an often painful inflammation of the cornea. Complications from keratitis can lead to vision loss.

The findings were presented at a recent joint meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) and the European Society of Ophthalmology.

"The picture that arises from this study is disturbing," wrote Dr. Assaf Kratz and Dr. Tova Lifshitz of the Soroka Medical Center. "It seems that the commonly used disinfecting solutions provide little protection from contamination of contact lens storage cases."

The researchers advised contact lens users to closely adhere to contact lens care guidelines, including frequent cleaning and replacing their lens case regularly in order to prevent contamination.

About 24 million people in the United States use contact lenses. If contact lenses aren't properly cleaned and disinfected, there's an increased risk of severe eye infection. Any lens that's removed from the eye needs to be cleaned and disinfected before it's reinserted. Care of contact lenses includes cleaning the storage case, since it's a potential source of infection, the AAO said.

More information

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more about contact lens safety.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Academy of Ophthalmology, news release, Nov. 10, 2008

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