Fusarium (fyoo-SEH-ree-um) species are found nearly everywhere—in plants, the air, and the soil. These are fungi, commonly known as mold.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, “Fusarium species can…cause disease that is localized, focally invasive or disseminated. The pathogen generally affects immunocompromised individuals with infection of immunocompetent persons being rarely reported.”*
Fusarium infections are rare. But when it occurs, it’s generally in people who have weakened immune systems.
According to a report from the American Society of Microbiology, the prognosis is poor for someone with a very weak immune system and a potent degree of Fusarium. *
Defenses against Fusarium related illnesses
As the American Society of Microbiology points out, “little information is available regarding host defenses against Fusarium species, invasive fusariosis shares many features with invasive aspergillosis and other invasive mold infections.”
Basically, our body’s immune system plays a major defense against any type of mold infections.*
Fursarium keratitis: What is it?
When related to our eyes, an infection of Fusarium is known as Fursarium keratitis. Keratitis, as defined by the CDC, is an inflammation of the cornea, which is the transparent dome that covers our eyes.
There are several possible ways to contract fungal keratitis. As the CDC explains, these include:
- A trauma to the eye, especially one involving plants, such as thorns or sticks
- An underlying eye disease
- Having a weakened immune system (as we discussed)
- Wearing contacts and not following the proper guidelines for their use
Fusarium keratitis: Possible causes and symptoms
While rare, Fusarium keratitis could occur through poor hygiene with contact lens usage. To help prevent this from happening, contact lens wearers should always:
- Follow the lens care guidelines and replacement schedule given by his or her eye doctor
- Thoroughly wash your hands with non-perfumed soap and dry with a lint-free towel before handling your contacts
- Replace your contact lens case at least once every three months
- Contact your eye care practitioner immediately if you experience any eye pain, redness mixed with excessive tearing, and increased light sensitivity.
Fusarium keratitis can lead to devastating conditions such as vision loss or blindness if left untreated. Don’t take a chance and cut corners with your contact lens care and hygiene.
Fusarium keratitis can be treated if caught in time. This can happen through topical antifungal medication or surgery if necessary.
Disinfect your contacts thoroughly to help reduce the risk of Fusarium keratitis
Along with following your eye doctor’s advice on contact lens care, you can help reduce the chances of being infected with Fusarium keratitis with these recommendations:
- Always rub and rinse your contacts when cleaning them, even if you use “no rub” cleaning solution
- Never use tap water or spit into your contacts to try to clean them—only use recommended disinfectant solution and follow its guidelines for use
- Remove your contacts immediately if you should experience any eye pain or redness and call your eye doctor
As we mentioned, occurrences of Fusarium keratitis are rare; however, they can happen.
When you visit your eye doctor, make sure you listen and understand to all of his or her advice concerning cleaning and taking care of your contacts. There’s a reason for the guidelines. Follow them and help protect your vision.
Nothing in this article is to be construed as medical advice, nor is it intended to replace the recommendations of a medical professional. For specific questions, please see your eye care practitioner.