Keratitis and Lens Care
MICHAEL A. WARD, MMSC, FAAO
As I write this column, the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are actively investigating
cases of Fusarium keratitis among contact lens wearers who
reported using Bausch & Lomb's ReNu with MoistureLoc MPS formulation. It's probable
that by the time you read this article, the cause of this outbreak will have been
discovered and remedied.
Figure 1. Mycotic keratitis
Mycotic (fungal) keratitis (Figure 1) is an uncommon complication
of contact lens wear. At least 35 genera of fungi have been historically associated
with corneal disease. The genera Candida, Fusarium, Cephalosporium
and Aspergillus are the most commonly reported causative agents in fungal
keratitis in the United States.
Fungi prefer tropical (warm and humid) environments, which is
consistent with their greater reported prevalence in the Southeastern United States.
The true incidence is unknown because fungal keratitis is not a reportable disease.
However, retrospective studies provide some insight as to the spectrum of fungal
keratitis. Rosa et al (1994) reported that Fusarium sp accounted for
62 percent of 151 cases of fungal keratitis in south Florida over a 10-year period
(1982 to 1992) and revealed that the most common risk factor is trauma, including
contact lens wear.
Tanure et al (2000) at Wills Eye Hospital reviewed 24 cases in
Philadelphia between 1991 and 1999, and reported Fusarium sp as the
most common filamentous fungus and Candida sp as the most frequent cause
of fungal keratitis. The two most common predisposing factors in the Philadelphia
study were chronic surface disease (41.7 percent) and contact lens wear (29.2 percent).
et al (2006) at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary reviewed their clinical experience
in New York over a 16-year period (1987 to 2003) and identified 61 cases of fungal
keratitis. The reported risk factors in New York were different from previous reports,
identified as HIV positivity (24.6 percent) and chronic surface disease (22.6 percent),
followed by trauma, H. simplex keratitis and lens wear. Other investigations
reported risk factors that include extended wear and lens wear during water activities.
Treatment and Prevention
Fusarium solani is reportedly the most virulent and drug
resistant of the 20-plus species of the Fusarium genera. Topical administration
of natamycin 5% appears to be the mainstay of treatment, with amphotericin B, ketoconazole
and itraconazole reported as adjunctive therapies. Penetrating keratoplasty is required
in some cases.
Cases of contact lens-associated corneal ulcers are devastating
to affected patients and practitioners and injurious to our industry. What's more,
most lens-associated corneal ulcers are preventable with proper practitioner instruction
coupled with patient compliance with the instructions. Lens care instructions should
include hand washing, daily use of fresh solutions (do not top-off), daily rinsing
and air drying of storage cases, regularly replacing storage cases and scalding
the case weekly with freshly boiled water. In addition, patients should replace
lenses as prescribed and avoid wearing contact lenses during water activities.
For references, please visit
and click on document #128.
Mr. Ward is an instructor
in ophthalmology at Emory University School of Medicine and Director, Emory Contact
Contact Lens Spectrum, Issue: July 2006