The team tested different strains of the keratitis-causing bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa for their ability to survive in a commonly used contact lens cleaning solution
Researchers at the University of Liverpool, have found that a bacterial strain associated with severe infections shows enhanced resistance to a common contact lens disinfectant solution.
Each year in the UK, bacterial infections cause around 6,000 cases of a severe eye condition known as microbial keratitis – an inflammation and ulceration of the cornea that can lead to loss of vision.
The results showed that the majority of clinical strains tested were killed within 10 minutes of being immersed in the contact lens solution, comparable with the standard reference strain. However, one clinical isolate, P. aeruginosa strain 39016 – associated with a more severe case of keratitis with a prolonged healing time – was able to survive for over four hours, much longer than the reference strain.
There are more than three million people in the UK using contact lenses. This work suggests that this type of bacteria should be included when testing the efficacy of contact lens cleaning solutions to ensure that the procedures are sufficiently robust to kill all P. aeruginosa strains.
Professor of bacteriology, Craig Winstanley, from the University's Institute of Infection and Global Health, led the research. He said: ''Microbial keratitis can be devastating for a patient – it is important that the risk of developing this condition is reduced in contact lens wearers by improving contact lens disinfectant solutions.''
Investigate further strains
The research group plans to investigate further strains to find out how widespread the enhanced bacterial resistance is and to better understand the mechanisms underlying it. This will potentially help in the design of more effective disinfectant procedures.
The research was presented today at the Society for General Microbiology Annual Conference in Liverpool.