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Contact lens-related microbial keratitis in deployed British military personnel


Aims To quantify the effect of contact lens-related microbial keratitis (CLMK) in the British Defence personnel particularly those in active service in the Arabian Gulf and Afghanistan between June 2001 and January 2007.

Methods A retrospective review of all British military personnel who developed contact lens-related keratitis during deployment.

Results A total of 27 cases (27, eyes, 23, male; median age 26 (range 19–41) years) were identified, of whom 19 cases were evacuated from Iraq alone. Twenty cases were associated with soft contact lens wear. Seven cases were culture positive, of which five grew Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The overall incidence of CLMK in contact lens wearer in the British military in Iraq was 35 per 10 000. There was an increased incidence during the summer months. Seventeen eyes (63%) lost more than one line of visual acuity with a resultant permanent medical downgrading in duty capability in nine cases.

Conclusions CLMK has a poorer outcome in a deployed military environment when compared to the civilian setting. Increased awareness of the health risks of contact lens wear together with standardised treatment regimens based on improved pathogen detection using molecular diagnostics have improved outcomes.

  • Corneal infection
  • contact lens
  • military
  • Arabian Gulf
  • cornea
  • infection

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