No Water On Your Lenses

Most people find contact lens wear is completely safe and trouble-free. However, wearing and caring for contact lenses properly is critical to keeping the eyes healthy and preventing eye infections. Contact lenses are medical devices, and failure to wear, clean, and store them as directed can increase the risk of eye infections.

The “No Water Campaign”

A campaign was launched in 2011 to raise awareness of the risks associated with using non-sterile water to clean contact lenses. Established by Irenie Ekkeshis, who lost the sight in her right eye after contracting a rare corneal infection called Acanthamoeba keratitis, the No water initiative won Campaign of the Year at the inaugural awards ceremony in London (June 2016).

In the video below, Irenie Ekkeshis talks about her successful “no water warning” campaign to help raise awareness of a disease that can affect people who wear contact lenses.

Water On Your Contact

Although rare, a sight-threatening eye complication, Acanthamoeba keratitis, is caused by an organism present in all forms of impure water, such as swimming pools, tap water and showers. That’s why it’s vitally important for contact lens wearers to remove their lenses before swimming and use appropriate solution to clean and disinfect lenses if they’re accidentally splashed. The many microorganisms that live in the water can easily stay on your lenses and cause you problems later.

Exposing contact lenses to water may increase the risk of different types of eye infections. One serious type of contact lens-related eye infection, Acanthamoeba keratitis, is caused by a microscopic ameba commonly found in water. Infection makes the clear outer surface of the eye become painful and inflamed and requires immediate attention. Even though infection from Acanthamoeba is rare, it can be difficult to treat and extremely painful and in the worst cases cause blindness. To prevent AK and other types of eye infections, good hygiene must be practiced while handling contact lenses.

Corneal infection (known as microbial keratitis) in contact lens wearers is mainly caused by bacteria, which stick to contact lenses where these microorganisms become more resistant and harmful.

Acanthamoeba keratitis is a more rare form of microbial keratitis and is a more severe form of infection and occurs in contact lens wearers who are otherwise fit and healthy.

Fungal keratitis can also occur with contact lens wear but occurs most often in people who sustain eye injuries from agricultural or gardening accidents, ocular surface disease and those with immunosuppression. This infection, like Acanthamoeba keratitis, is one of the severest forms of corneal infection that can occur in contact lens wear.

Download our Contact Lens Care Card with these recommendations and keep it in your lens care kit.

Clinical Resources:

  • Joslin CE, Tu EY, Shoff ME, Booton GC, Fuerst PA, McMahon TT, Anderson RJ, Dworkin MS, Sugar J, Davis FG, Stayner LT. The association of contact lens solution use and Acanthamoeba keratitis. Am J Ophthalmol. 2007; 144(2):169-80.
  • Hammersmith KM. Diagnosis and management of Acanthamoeba keratitis. Curr Opin Ophthalmol. 2006;17(4):327-31.
  • Butcko V, McMahon TT, Joslin CE, Jones L. Microbial keratitis and the role of rub and rinsing. Eye Contact Lens. 2007;33(6 Pt 2):421-3; discussion 424-5.
  • Beattie TK, Tomlinson A, McFadyen AK, Seal DV, Grimason AM. Enhanced attachment of Acanthamoeba to extended-wear silicone hydrogel contact lenses: a new risk factor for infection? Ophthalmology. 2003;110(4):765-71.
  • Visvesvara GS, Jones DB, Robinson NM. Isolation, identification, and biological characterization of Acanthamoeba polyphaga from a human eye. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 1975;24:784-90.
  • Page MA, Mathers WD. Acanthamoeba keratitis: a 12-year experience covering a wide spectrum of presentations, diagnoses, and outcomes. J Ophthalmol. 2013;2013:670242.
  • Verani JR, Lorick SA, Yoder JS, Beach MJ, Braden CR, Roberts JM, Conover CS, Chen S, McConnell KA, Chang DC, Park BJ, Jones DB, Visvesvara GS, Roy SL. National outbreak of Acanthamoeba keratitis associated with use of a contact lens solution, United States. Emerg Infect Dis. 2009; 15(8):1236-42.
  • Ross J, Roy SL, Mathers WD, Ritterband DC, Yoder JS, Ayers T, Shah RD, Samper ME, Shih CY, Schmitz A, Brown AC. Clinical characteristics of Acanthamoeba keratitis infections in 28 states, 2008 to 2011. Cornea. 2014; 33(2):161-8.

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