Can acanthamoeba be cured?

Acanthamoeba is difficult to treat, but early diagnosis may improve the chance for a good outcome.
Acanthamoeba is difficult to treat, but early diagnosis may improve the chance for a good outcome.

Acanthamoeba can be a difficult infection to treat. Early diagnosis may be essential for the effective treatment of Acanthamoeba. Acanthamoeba is one of the most common organisms in the environment. Although it rarely causes an infection, it can be fatal when it does occur. Acanthamoeba species are the causative agent of a sight-threatening infection of the cornea known as acanthamoeba keratitis. Skin infections that are caused by Acanthamoeba may be successfully treated. If Acanthamoeba causes central nervous system infection, it may be difficult to treat because it affects patients with weakened immune systems. If an individual suspects Acanthamoeba infection, it is always recommended to see a doctor immediately. It usually takes 4 to 6 months for the patient to completely get rid of Acanthamoeba infection if diagnosed early.

  • Anti-infective agents are used in the early stage, and surgical intervention may be necessary for later stages to remove infected tissues. The patient may also be prescribed antibiotics to help protect against potential bacterial infection and control pain and swelling.
  • The patient may be treated with eye drops early in the infection to control pain and infection.
  • Anti-amoebic antiseptic drops are typically used to treat the infection. They may be administered every hour for the first few days (including overnight). As the treatment progresses, the patient may need the drops every 2 hours and then less frequently until the treatment is finished.
  • Research shows that acanthamoeba keratitis is successfully treated in patients using a contact lens and 6 months of therapy with topical miconazole, metronidazole, prednisolone and neomycin as well as oral ketoconazole.

What is Acanthamoeba?

Acanthamoeba is a microscopic amoeba (a single-celled living organism) that may cause rare but severe infections of the eye, skin and central nervous system (CNS). It is commonly found in tap water, freshwater (lakes), swimming pools, soil, dust and air.

Acanthamoeba may cause three main types of illness

  • Acanthamoeba keratitis (involving the eye): This is also known as an eye-eating parasite.
  • Granulomatous encephalitis (involving the brain and spinal cord): This is rare, but deadly.
  • Disseminated infection throughout the body: This is disseminated disease without CNS involvement that may cause sinusitis, pneumonitis or a combination  of both. Other unusual manifestations of Acanthamoeba infections are osteomyelitis, adrenalitis and vasculitis.

What is acanthamoeba keratitis?

Acanthamoeba keratitis is a rare eye infection that may cause permanent blindness if left undiagnosed or untreated. Acanthamoeba keratitis could happen through cuts or eye injury, exposure to contaminated water or poor hygiene concerning eye health routines. Acanthamoeba keratitis is a rare infection, but when it occurs it has a devastating effect for a long period of time. It may usually take less than a year to cure this condition. In severe conditions, it may take the patient more than a year to get better.

  • The symptoms of acanthamoeba keratitis are very similar to that of other common eye infections. The symptoms are
  • The following prevention tips may prevent acanthamoeba keratitis
    • Always wash hands before handling contact lenses.
    • Rub and rinse the surface of the contact lens before storing it.
    • Use only sterile products recommended by the optometrist to clean and disinfect contact lenses.
    • Saline solution and rewetting drops are not designed to disinfect lenses.
    • Avoid using tap water to wash or store contact lenses.
    • A contact lens solution must be discarded after opening the case and fresh solution should be used each time the contact lens is placed in the case.
    • Replace lenses following the doctor’s prescribed schedule.
    • Do not sleep with contact lenses unless prescribed by the doctor and never after swimming.
    • Never swap lenses with someone else.
    • Never put contact lenses in the mouth or use saliva to wet the contact lens.
    • See the optometrist  regularly for contact lens evaluation.
    • Any patient who experiences RSVP (redness, secretions, visual blurring or pain) should contact the optometrist immediately.

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Medically Reviewed on 10/13/2020
References
Medscape Medical Reference

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