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Stern George A. M.D.
Cornea: 1990
Original Article: PDF Only

Microbial keratitis with Pseudomonas aeruginosu is the most common corneal infection associated with contact lenses (CLs). Pseudomonas organisms are ubiquitous in nature, and can colonize CLs without a prior breach in lens care or hygiene. Although poor lens care is often found in affected patients, lens contamination and traumatic epithelial defects are more relevant. Hydrophilic lenses, particularly extended wear lenses, have been associated with a greater frequency of Pseudomonas keratitis. The polymer matrix of these lenses is apparently suited to the avid adherence of Pseudomonas organisms. Adherence is promoted by the presence of lens coatings, which begin to accumulate upon lens insertion and whose level mounts over time. Evidence suggests that infection is more common with mucin-coated contaminated CLs than with noncoated contaminated CLs. In general, lens wear can promote bacterial adherence to the ocular surface by shielding the cornea from the wiping action of the eyelids and immune components in tears. Still, experimental models have shown that keratitis develops regularly (84%) only in corneas that have been traumatized. Trauma may arise through lens insertion or removal, deposits or debris entrapment, hypoxia, or toxic reactions to solution preservatives. Extended wear is believed to facilitate the infectious process because of the chronic accumulation of coatings, the chronic exposure of CLs to potentially adherent bacteria, the continuous presence of irritating lens deposits, the prolonged entrapment of debris beneath the lens, and the relative infrequency of lens cleaning and disinfection.

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