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Personal hygiene risk factors for contact lens-related microbial keratitis
  1. Anna Stellwagen1,2,
  2. Cheryl MacGregor1,
  3. Roger Kung1,2,
  4. Aristides Konstantopoulos1,
  5. Parwez Hossain1,2
  1. 1Eye Unit, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Southampton, UK
  2. 2Eye Unit, Clinical and Experimental Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Parwez Hossain; P.N.Hossain{at}


Objective Microbial keratitis is a sight-threatening complication of contact lens wear, which affects thousands of patients and causes a significant burden on healthcare services. This study aims to identify compliance with contact lens care recommendations and identify personal hygiene risk factors in patients who develop contact lens-related microbial keratitis.

Methods and analysis A case–control study was conducted at the University Hospital Southampton Eye Casualty from October to December 2015. Two participant groups were recruited: cases were contact lens wearers presenting with microbial keratitis and controls were contact lens wearers without infection. Participants underwent face-to-face interviews to identify lens wear practices, including lens type, hours of wear, personal hygiene and sleeping and showering in lenses. Univariate and multivariate regression models were used to compare groups.

Results 37 cases and 41 controls were identified. Showering in contact lenses was identified as the greatest risk factor (OR, 3.1; 95% CI, 1.2 to 8.5; p=0.03), with showering daily in lenses compared with never, increasing the risk of microbial keratitis by over seven times (OR, 7.1; 95% CI, 2.1 to 24.6; p=0.002). Other risks included sleeping in lenses (OR, 3.1; 95% CI, 1.1 to 8.6; p=0.026), and being aged 25–39 (OR, 6.38; 95% CI, 1.56 to 26.10; p=0.010) and 40–54 (OR, 4.00; 95% CI 0.96 to 16.61; p=0.056).

Conclusion The greatest personal hygiene risk factor for contact lens-related microbial keratitis was showering while wearing lenses, with an OR of 3.1, which increased to 7.1 if patients showered daily in lenses. The OR for sleeping in lenses was 3.1, and the most at-risk age group was 25–54.

  • cornea
  • contact lens
  • infection
  • pathology
  • microbiology

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  • Contributors AS assisted in study design, collected and analysed the data and is first author. CM assisted with writing the report and mentoring. RK conducted preliminary work in the pilot study. AK assisted with data collection and mentoring. PH led and designed the study.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting or dissemination plans of this research. Refer to the Methods section for further details.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available upon request.

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