By Marielle Mohs

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Eye doctors have a warning for contact users, especially in the Minnesota summer when most of us are enjoying the lakes.

There is an aquatic parasite called Acanthamoeba, and eye doctors warn there is a chance this parasite can attach to eye contacts and do serious damage.

“It can cause a condition called Acanthamoeba Keratitis, and that condition can cause painful blindness,” said Dr. Alla Kelly, an ophthalmologist with the St. Paul Eye Clinic.

Dr. Kelly says the most unsuspecting place you can be exposed to this parasite is in shower and tap water. Dr. Kelly recommends never showering in your eye contacts as a precaution.

Stacy Shilts, a patient at St. Paul Eye Clinic, has been wearing contacts for the last eight years

“You would think that would just happen from dirty water or contaminated water, but to know that it could potentially be in my own home, that’s a scary thought,” Shilts said. “It makes me want to change my routine and how I wear my contacts.”

Dr. Kelly recommends using daily contacts to decrease the risk of infections. If you don’t use dailies, she says always clean your eye contacts with a store bought solution — not water.

Acanthamoeba is rare, but Dr. Kelly has treated Minnesotans for it in her career.

“I’ve probably seen about five to 10 cases, and I’ve been practicing with my fellowship for about six years,” said Dr. Kelly.

She says wearing a weekly or month-long prescription is not a wrong option, as long as you don’t wear them any longer than instructed.

Dr. Kelly says the greatest risk in acquiring an infection is by sleeping with your contacts in.

Marielle Mohs