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Indian J Ophthalmol. 2007 Jan-Feb;55(1):37-42.

A study of the spectrum of Acanthamoeba keratitis: a three-year study at a tertiary eye care referral center in South India.

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  • 1Microbiology Research Centre, Aravind Eye Hospital and Postgraduate Institute of Ophthalmology, Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu-627 001, India.



To determine the epidemiological and clinical characteristics of Acanthamoeba keratitis and also to determine the sensitivity and specificity of smears in the detection of Acanthamoeba.


A retrospective review of all culture-positive cases of Acanthamoeba keratitis seen between October 1999 and August 2002 was performed. Corneal scrapes were subjected to culture and microscopy using standard protocols.


Out of 3183 consecutive patients with clinically diagnosed corneal ulcers evaluated, 33 (1.04%) were found to be due to Acanthamoeba. Twenty-four out of 33 (72.72%) were less than 51 years of age (P<0.001). All patients were from rural areas (P<0.001) and 26 (78.79%) of them were agricultural workers (P=0.031). All 33 had history of corneal injury (P<0.001) and 28 (84.85%) patients had injury with mud (P<0.001). All 33 (100%) patients had previous medical treatment (P=0.009) and 10 (30.3%) had used traditional eye medicines (P=0.183). A clinical pattern of ring infiltrate was characteristic in 15 (45.45%) patients. The diameter of the corneal ulcer was more than 6 mm in 27 (81.82%) eyes (P<0.001). Twenty-six (78.79%) patients had visual acuity of perception of light on initial presentation (P<0.001) and 24 (72.73%) had the same as their final visual outcome. The sensitivity of 10% potassium hydroxide (KOH) preparation was found to be higher (P<0.001) in the detection of Acanthamoeba cysts.


The incidence of Acanthamoeba keratitis amongst the corneal ulcer patients was 1% in this setting and it was mainly due to corneal injury by mud. The KOH preparation is a sensitive diagnostic tool for the detection of Acanthamoeba. Delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis and inappropriate antimicrobial therapy results in poor visual outcome.

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