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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Prevention, early treatment key to avoiding flood-related eye infections

Vision specialists at UI Hospitals and Clinics have begun treating patients with flood-related eye infections, which suggests that the problem will be as prevalent as in 1993, when specialists treated a high number of eye infections related to water-borne pathogens. These pathogens, which include amoebae, parasites, bacteria and viruses, can be extremely dangerous to the eye, leading to vision loss and, in some cases, corneal transplantation.

Prevention and early detection and treatment are vital to maintaining eye health. Key symptoms include:

• A red, frequently painful eye
• Foreign-body sensation, tearing, light sensitivity and blurred vision.
• Red, irritated eyes lasting for an unusually long period of time after removal of contact lenses.

Tips for preventing eye infections:

• Avoid contact with floodwaters (and if you cannot, do not wear contact lenses at this time).
• Don't assume treated tap water is safe. Avoid using tap water to wash or store contact lenses.
• Always wash and dry hands before touching the eye or handling contact lenses.
• Use only sterile products recommended by your optometrist to clean and disinfect your lenses. Saline solution and rewetting drops are not designed to disinfect lenses.
• Contact lens solution must be discarded upon opening the case, and use fresh solution each time the lens is placed in its case.
• Rub and rinse the surface of the contact lens before storing.
• Do not sleep in contact lenses (unless prescribed by your doctor) and never after contact with water.
• Replace lenses using your doctor’s prescribed schedule.
• Never swap lenses with someone else.
• Never put contact lenses in your mouth.
• Sterilize your contact lens case, as this is a frequent source of infection.

If you experience redness, secretions, visual blurring or pain, contact your physician or eye care specialist immediately.