Fungal Keratitis: Contact Users Look Out!


TAMPA, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — More than 40 million of us wear them, but a lot of contact lens users have no idea about certain fungal infections that literally can rob us of our sight. We take a look at which kind of lenses are the safest.

Window shopping outside on a beautiful day was nearly impossible for Lisa Stone in the past.

“It was stabbing debilitating pain. I was literally in my house in a dark room just in agony truly in agony.” Stone described.

A rare but sight-robbing fungus had grown in her eye.

“The fungus can actually penetrate into the cornea and also into the eye itself, and if it’s not treated appropriately then you could lose your vision or even lose the eye.” Herbert Knauf, MD, an Ophthalmologist at Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater, Florida stated.

Stone wore extended wear soft contacts for 30 years, which Dr. Knauf says are the main culprits.

“We also had boarding stable kinda determined possibly could of picked up something there. Dealing with horses and all.” Dr. Knauf continued.

The CDC says nearly one in five contact-related eye infections damage the eye. Dr. Knauf urges patients to only use hard contact lenses or soft daily disposable lenses and don’t wear any contacts if you’re going to be around plants or animals for a long time.

“It’s a very serious infection in many cases even if treated appropriately there’s a need for corneal transplant on urgent basis to save someone’s eyesight.” Dr. Knauf explained.

Which is what Stone needed. Later she had Lasik, so her days of wearing contacts are over. But if she did it all over again…

“Just do the daily wear and take them out at night and give your eyes a break also ya know. But hindsight is 20/20.” Stone said.

Which, thanks to two surgeries, so is Stone.

Dr. Knauf says fungal keratitis has been associated with contact lens solutions in the past, but that doesn’t seem to be the case right now.

Contributors to this news report include: Emily Maza Gleason, Field Producer; Travis Bell, Photographer; Roque Correa, Editor.


REPORT #2389

BACKGROUND: More than 40 million Americans wear contact lenses but most don’t realize the severity of the infections they can cause if not taken care of properly. Symptoms of contact lens-related infections include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Unusual redness of eye
  • Pain in the eye
  • Tearing or discharge of the eye
  • Increased light sensitivity or sensation of something in the eye

Some infections can cause serious vision loss or blindness, so it is important to go to an ophthalmologist if experiencing any of these symptoms.

(Sources: &

HOW TO AVOID: 1 out of every 500 contact lens users is affected by an eye infection that can lead to blindness. The majority of these occur due to not following proper care instructions. Other factors that contribute to contact lens infections include:

  • Use of extended-wear lenses
  • Sleeping in your contact lenses
  • Reduced tear exchange under the lens
  • Environmental factors
  • Reusing or topping off contact lens solution

(Sources: &

FUNGAL KERATITIS: One of the most common types of infection caused by a contact lens is Fungal Keratitis. The infection causes pain, reduction of vision, light sensitivity and tearing of the eye. The normal treatment for this infection is eye drops and oral medication. If this treatment is not effective, surgery may be recommended, including a corneal transplant. It is very important to visit an ophthalmologist. If left untreated, surgery may not be able to restore vision and the infection can lead to blindness.


* For More Information, Contact:

Janet J. O’Harrow

Media Relations Coordinator

Morton Plant Mease & St. Anthony’s

BayCare Health System


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