Eye Parasites

A. castellanii is a ubiquitous organism, found in many ecosystems worldwide. It is able to survive in harsh environmental circumstances – even in some contact lens solutions – and this is not the first occurrence of A. castellanii appearing in the eye. Acanthamoeba keratitis (AK) is a neglected malady frequently associated with contact lens wear.

Acanthamoeba infection of the cornea causes severe inflammation, intense pain and impaired vision, which is blinding if left untreated. Infection begins when the parasite is at its active feeding trophozoite stage and sticks to the corneal tissue before penetrating the lower stromal layer. The resulting opacity leads to less sharp vision and eventually blindness.

Acanthamoeba infections (not just in the eye) are being detected by clinicians with increasing frequency, especially as opportunistic infections in patients whose immune system is already compromised. This at-risk population is expanding as a result of increasing use of immune-suppressing therapies for cancer treatment and the global HIV/AIDS pandemic.

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