Treating Microbial Keratitis with Germicidal Contact Lenses

Microbial keratitis is an infection of the cornea that can result serious consequences, including increasing the opacity of the cornea, and eventually blindness. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research found that this infection could be treated using germicidal contact lenses.

Early symptoms of microbial keratitis include the eye turning red and watery, and blurred vision. Microbial keratitis caused by acanthomoeba is particularly difficult to treat because acanthomoeba is resistant to available drugs.

“Acanthamoeba are essentially everywhere. And contact lenses that are not completely clean are an excellent breeding ground for these parasites. The amoebae literally eat into the cornea,” explains Dr. Joachim Storsberg, scientist at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP.

The researchers manufactured plasma-activated silicone hydrogel contact lenses, which they say have a gentle germicidal effect, able to oxidize and destroy the membranes of the amoebas.

“Plasma is known as a germicide. It has already been successfully used for several years in the treatment of skin diseases. So it made sense to develop contact lenses with germicidal properties and see whether they attack the amoebae and prevent them from multiplying,” says Storsberg. Successful tests of the contact lenses were carried out using donor corneas that were infected by a solution of acanthomoeba.

The group’s goal is to begin clinical trials in the summer of 2018.

keratitis_2
© Fraunhofer IAP

 

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