Healthcast: Fungal Keratitis


More than 40 million of us wear them, but a lot of contact lens users have no idea about certain fungal infections that literally can rob us of our sight. We take a look at which kind of lenses are the safest.

Window shopping outside on a beautiful day was nearly impossible for Lisa Stone in the past.

“It was stabbing debilitating pain. I was literally in my house in a dark room just in agony truly in agony.” Stone described.

A rare but sight-robbing fungus had grown in her eye.

“The fungus can actually penetrate into the cornea and also into the eye itself, and if it’s not treated appropriately then you could lose your vision or even lose the eye.” Herbert Knauf, MD, an Ophthalmologist at Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater, Florida stated.

Stone wore extended wear soft contacts for 30 years, which Dr. Knauf says are the main culprits.

“We also had boarding stable kinda determined possibly could of picked up something there. Dealing with horses and all.” Dr. Knauf continued.

The CDC says nearly one in five contact-related eye infections damage the eye. Dr. Knauf urges patients to only use hard contact lenses or soft daily disposable lenses and don’t wear any contacts if you’re going to be around plants or animals for a long time.

“It’s a very serious infection in many cases even if treated appropriately there’s a need for corneal transplant on urgent basis to save someone’s eyesight.” Dr. Knauf explained.

Which is what Stone needed. Later she had Lasik, so her days of wearing contacts are over. But if she did it all over again…

“Just do the daily wear and take them out at night and give your eyes a break also ya know. But hindsight is 20/20.” Stone said.

Which, thanks to two surgeries, so is Stone.

Dr. Knauf says fungal keratitis has been associated with contact lens solutions in the past, but that doesn’t seem to be the case right now.

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