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Aust N Z J Ophthalmol. 1998 Aug;26(3):231-6.

Acanthamoeba keratitis in New Zealand, including two cases with in vivo resistance to polyhexamethylene biguanide.

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Eye Department, Auckland Hospital, New Zealand.



Acanthamoeba keratitis is an uncommon corneal infection that can run a protracted course with, at times, serious visual results. Eighty-five per cent of cases occur in soft contact lens wearers. The first New Zealand case occurred in 1990 and only seven cases have been identified in New Zealand to the end of 1996.


We surveyed the ophthalmologists looking after these seven cases of acanthamoeba keratitis as to time to diagnosis, treatment and outcome.


New Zealand has a low incidence of this disease. All cases were soft contact lens wearers with defective care in every instance. After an initial two late-diagnosed cases, the time to diagnosis for four of the five other cases has been within 2 weeks. Medical treatment has varied over this series, but since the introduction of the cationic antiseptics polyhexamethylene biguanide (PHMB) and chlorhexidine in 1992, the last five cases were all treated with PHMB. One case diagnosed within 2 weeks ran a devastating course, despite intensive PHMB, and a second case remained culture positive after 1 year of PHMB and the late addition of chlorhexidine. Debridement, 0.1% PHMB and hexamidine eventually settled this eye.


For treatment PHMB, hexamidine rather than propamidine and surgical debridement are favoured. While all Acanthamoeba isolates show good in vitro sensitivity to PHMB, the in vivo response is not always proportionate. A bacterial endosymbiont may have been a factor in the favourable outcome of one protracted case.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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