What is Fusarium keratitis?
Fusarium keratitis is a rare but serious fungal infection of the cornea — the clear, round dome covering the eyeâ€™s iris and pupil. Symptoms of fungal keratitis include:
Sudden blurry vision
Unusual redness of the eye
Pain in your eye
Excessive tearing or discharge from your eye
Increased light sensitivity
Fusarium keratitis can cause permanent vision loss if left untreated.
How can you get fungal keratitis?
Risk factors for fungal keratitis include trauma (usually where plant material gets into the eye), chronic or ongoing disease of the surface of the eye, compromised immune systems, and rarely, contact lens use. Keratitis is not transmitted from person to person.
Since June 2005, there has been a marked increase in Fusarium keratitis infections, primarily among contact lens wearers. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are investigating possible causes for these increased infections.
Are contact lens solutions the cause of the infections?
No one is sure yet, but the investigation is looking into possible links between solutions and the infections. Consumers are being told not to use Bausch & Lomb ReNu with MoistureLoc, which the CDC says was used by people in a majority of the confirmed cases of fungal keratitis. Other cases, in smaller but still significant numbers, involved Bausch & Lomb ReNu MultiPlus solution. Contact lens solutions manufactured by Alcon and AMO were also mentioned, but in just a handful of the cases.
There is no recommendation at this time to stop using any specific products, other than ReNu with MoistureLoc. There is no confirmed increased risk of infection by using contact lens solution or wearing contact lenses.
How is Fusarium keratitis treated?
Fusarium keratitis is treated using topical and oral antifungal medications. Patients who do not respond to medical treatment may require eye surgery, including possible need for corneal transplant.
How can fungal keratitis infections be prevented?
Safe handling, storage and cleaning of contact lenses are key measures for reducing the risk of infection.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends consumers always use the following safe contact lens practices:
Wash your hands with soap and water and dry them before handling lenses.
Wear and replace your lenses according to the schedule prescribed by your doctor.
Follow instructions from your doctor and your solution manufacturer for cleaning and storing your lenses.
Make sure you always use fresh solution and replenish the solution daily.
Keep your contact lens case clean and replace every three to six months.
Remove the lenses and consult an ophthalmologist immediately if your eyes become red or irritated or your vision changes.
Regardless of what cleaning/disinfecting solution you use, consider performing a â€œrub and rinseâ€ lens cleaning method rather than a â€œno-rubâ€ method to minimize the number of germs, reducing your chances of infection.
What should I do if I think I have an eye infection?
If you believe you may have an eye infection or have other concerns about your eyes, you should see an ophthalmologist (Eye M.D.) immediately.