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Contact lens wearers are being warned to take extra care of their eyes after an outbreak of a rare infection that can cause blindness.
According to Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, there has been a rise in the number of people admitted with Ancanthamoeba since 2011.
The infection, which can be prevented by keeping the eye clean, causes the surface on the front of the eye, the cornea, to become painful and enflamed with people who wear contact lenses being most at risk of contracting it.
Only 10 people a year were admitted to the hospital with the infection between 2000 and 2003 according to a study in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, however this rose to between 35 and 65 cases per year between 2011 and 2016.
Back in 2002, a study found that Ancanthamoeba keratitis affected 2.5 contact lens wearers per 100,000 in south east England, however this is currently two to three times higher than that, according to Moorfields Eye Hospital and University College London.
The preventable infection can have severe consequences as the most affected patients have been left with 25 per cent less vision of even come blind after contracting the disease.
Professor John Dart from Moorfields Eye Hospital and UCL Institute of Ophthalmology said: "This increase in cases highlights the need for contact lens users to be aware of the risks."
Those who wear reusable contact lenses are more at risk of eye infection due to acanthamoeba, a cyst-forming microorganism being found in high levels in UK domestic water supplies.
Showering, swimming and using hot tubs while wearing lenses can create high risk, as Professor Dart explains: "People who wear reusable contact lenses need to make sure they thoroughly wash and dry their hands before handling contact lenses, and avoid wearing them while swimming, face washing or bathing.
"Daily disposable lenses, which eliminate the need for contact lens cases or solutions, may be safer and we are currently analysing our data to establish the risk factors for these."
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