The free living amoeba called acanthamoeba causes uncommon but precipitated sickness. Derived from the name of the organism, the disease acanthamoeba keratitis is a severe eye infection that, if left unattended, can permanently spoil vision or even cause blindness.
It may be heartening to note though, that few persons who are exposed to the organism actually fall ill.
Symptoms of Amoeba Infections
Initially, the amoeba infection symptoms resemble those of any other common eye infection: blurry vision, red conjunctiva, watering eyes, painful, itchy eyes and light sensitivity. These symptoms can last for weeks, and so far there have been no reports of the disease spreading to other parts of the body.
If the affected patient already has a compromised immune system, then the parasite acanthamoeba can cause the development of skin sores and lesions and disseminated disease.
There have been cases where acanthamoeba has caused the disease granulomatous amebic encephalitis, where the brain and spinal become severely inflamed. In this case, the amoeba infection symptoms are vomiting, exhaustion, headaches, difficulty concentrating, seizures, lack of coordination and reduced motor function, imbalance, delirium and stiff neck. Please note that this disease is likely to be fatal if left to progress for more than a few days.
It is, of course, the best thing if diagnosis of acanthamoeba keratitis is spotted early. Persons who as part of their daily lives wear contact lens are quite susceptible to contracting what is called herpes simplex keratitis, and so such patients who have had herpes simplex keratitis need on be on the lookout for the other if their regular treatment begins to fail. Investigation is done by performing a biopsy or a scraping of the eye and testing the sample for the presence of amoeba, or by using a specialized microscope to physically if there is amoeba growth on the eye.
There are several prescription eye preparations indicated in the treatment of acanthamoeba.
Topical cationic antiseptic preparations like 0.02% chlorhexidine and 0.02% polyhesamethylene may be prescribed, perhaps for use simultaneously with a diamidine like hexamidine of propamidine. To get pain relief, the specialist might propose oral medications and cycloplegic eye drops.
There is no consensus regarding corticosteoids in treatment for the inflammation itself.
This parasite is quite hardy, and can be a challenge to eradicate. Keep in mind that treatment is not necessarily standardized, but on a case by case basis as recommended by the treating eye doctor.
If you experience a combination of any of the amoeba infection symptoms, see your doctor sooner rather than later. Aside from the risk of permanent eye damage and loss of vision in totality, harbouring this dangerous parasite can ultimately be life threatening.