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Contact Lens Germs Give Clues to Eye Infection

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 12 -- Cultures made from organisms found on contact lenses may help identify the causes of corneal eye infection (microbial keratitis), Australian researchers report.

Reporting in the September issue of the journal Archives of Ophthalmology, researchers at the University of Melbourne reviewed the records of 49 patients (average age 34) with contact lens-related microbial keratitis. There were a total of 50 affected eyes.

Organisms were found to be growing on 17 (34 percent) corneal scrapings and 35 contact lenses (70 percent). In 13 eyes, identical organisms were growing in the cultures taken from the corneal scrapings and from the contact lenses. In two eyes, different organisms were found in the corneal eye scrapings and in the contact lenses.

Serratia marcescens was the most common organism found in both the corneal scrapings and the contact lenses, the researchers said.

"Contact lens culture may help in the identification of the causative organism in many cases of contact lens-related microbial keratitis," the study authors concluded. Culture findings may also "help in choosing the appropriate microbial agent" to fight the patient's infection, the researchers added.

More information

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration outlines the risks associated with contact lenses.

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Posted: September 2007