There is a single-celled amoeba that can wreak havoc on your eyes and even lead to blindness, and it is called Acanthamoeba. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this type of amoeba can be found just about anywhere, including in all types of water, in the soil, and even in the air. If this organism makes its way to the eye causing Acanthamoeba keratitis, it can lead to visual impairment that can range all the way up to vision loss. While individuals who wear contact lenses appear to be more at risk for contracting this amoeba, anyone who comes into contact with this organism is certainly at risk. Knowing the symptoms of Acanthamoeba keratitis may help save your vision.
When your eyes are sensitive to the light, it is known as photophobia. The name can be misleading, as this is not a fear of the light, but rather an extreme sensitivity. The irritation caused by the amoeba can increase your eyes' ability to effectively filter light through the corneas or the widening and narrowing of the pupils. While some individuals may feel light sensitivity is a condition in and of itself, it is typically a symptom of some other type of problem with the eyes, including Acanthamoeba keratitis infection. When you are in bright light situations, you may automatically squint your eyes or experience additional symptoms.
Get to know these additional symptoms now.
Feeling Something In The Eye
A very common complaint heard by ophthalmologists is the feeling there is something in a patient's eye. This feeling is often referred to as foreign body sensation. In many cases, there is nothing there. The cornea, or clear covering over the iris and pupil, is generally affected. This can feel like something is scratching your eye, resulting in irritation, itching, or pain. The cornea could have been scratched by a foreign body, including an eyelash, which is no longer present. However, in the case of Acanthamoeba keratitis, there is a foreign body present: an amoeba. If you believe you are feeling something in the eye, you should get the issue checked promptly to avoid permanent damage to your vision.
Reveal the next sign of Acanthamoeba keratitis now.
A Severe Headache
It might seem surprising that a problem with the eye can lead to a headache, but this occurs frequently with many eye conditions. The cornea has many nerves, which makes it very sensitive. Even the slightest bit of debris can be excruciatingly painful. Now imagine an amoeba has infiltrated this sensitive region. As the organism creates more and more damage, the nerves are stimulated. These nerves are connected to other nerves in the head. The main optic nerve behind the eye leads to the brain. Consistent pressure, irritation, and inflammation in the eye caused by Acanthamoeba keratitis can lead to severe headaches.
Continue reading to learn about more Acanthamoeba keratitis symptoms.
Tearing And Redness In Eyes
Redness is a common symptom of infection or irritation of the eye. This is because the small blood vessels in the eye expand and are filled with more blood, making them more visible at the eye's surface. Tearing is the body's natural response to clear the eye of any foreign particles or irritation. Once the corneal surface has been breached, such as by Acanthamoeba, irritation ensues and triggers the body to try to get rid of the irritating substance. Because the flow of tears is not enough to clear away the amoeba, excessive tearing is common with this condition. Tearing and redness in eyes may also occur when they are exposed to bright lights.
Learn more about symptoms of Acanthamoeba keratitis now.
Blurred Or Decreased Vision
The organism responsible for Acanthamoeba keratitis does not remain on the surface of the eye, but instead buries itself deep beneath the surface. As the amoebae multiply, the infection progresses, leading to increased areas of damage within the eye structures. As more and more of the eye tissue is eroded, visual disturbances are common. Ulcers and other degradation within the composition of the eye can lead to blurred vision. As the disease progresses, more and more of the eye can become damaged. This process has even been referred to as corneal 'melting,' and can eventually lead to full or partial blindness, which is not reversible. If you experience blurred or decreased vision, seek professional assistance right away.