Contact lenses are not recommended for the trek. Charlie Lynn recently got an Acanthamoeba parasite in his eye.
The Acanthamoeba parasite lives in water and soil and can hitch a ride on contact lenses, then invade a vulnerable eye and destroy the cornea.
Charlie was wearing multi-day lenses. After the parasite lodged in his cornea It caused blindness in his right eye and the infection then spread to his left eye which caused partial blindness. He was evacuated from the trail and spent almost four weeks in the Sydney Eye Hospital. It is not known at this stage whether the sight will be fully restored to his right eye.
Some do prefer to wear contact lenses on the trail. If you do decide to wear contact lenses and wish to avoid a devastating infection you should:
- Wear 30 day or weekly lenses;
- never immerse your head under water on the trail;
- rinse eyes with disinfecting solution every time after bathing;
- never wear contact lenses when your eyes are irritated or if you suspect you have even a tiny scratch, remove lenses and soak overnight and flush eyes with disinfecting solution;
- never allow lenses or cases to come in contact with tap water;
- never swim with contact lenses in, even in a chlorinated pool’;
- don’t shower with contact lenses in your eyes;
- do not keep lenses or solutions past their expiry date;
- do not wear lenses for longer periods than your eye professional recommends;
- always carefully follow your eye professional’s instructions for cleaning contact lenses; and
- a lens cleaning routine that requires rubbing is preferable to one that only requires soaking
The Acanthamoeba parasite is spiny amoeba that produces spiny pseudopodia as they move slowly along. They are about five times the size of a human red blood cell and are large as far as microbes go, but still too small to be seen with the naked eye.