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Can you get an eye infection while playing soccer or rugby?

May 22, 2012

An article appeared in the Singapore newspapers today: “Ministry of Health probes Hong Kong rugby club’s eye infections.”

The report – boys from a rugby club in Hong Kong played in a tournament in Singapore last month and many of them (40 out of 60) developed eye infection.

The infection turned out to be a special type of cornea infection known as Microsporidial Keratitis.

Microsporidial Keratitis

This is an infection of the cornea from an organism known as Microsporidia. This organism is a spore-forming parasite.  It causes white dots on the cornea and the patient complains of redness of the eye and some complain of blurred vision. While many of these infections have been correlated with exposure to soil, I have also seen those that arose due to injury, swimming and contact lens use.

It is treated with antibiotic eye drops applied to the eye. Some doctors will also add a special oral medication called Albendazole (a medication used to treat infections caused by worms).  Sometimes a steroid eye drop may also have to be used.

It usually resolves well with treatment and seldom causes a permanent decrease in vision. So I am quite certain the rugby boys from Hong Kong will recover well. 🙂

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Mike permalink
    May 25, 2012 12:41 pm

    Thanks for the information. Didn’t really receive any elsewhere about this.

  2. May 25, 2012 10:26 pm

    Hi Mike. You are most welcome. 🙂

  3. June 29, 2012 2:14 pm

    Hi – is microsporidia a parasite or fungal infection? Why are antibiotics used by specialists to treat either of these for Microsporiadial Keratitis? I’ve read that treatment for fungi (voriconazole) is better in this case

  4. July 2, 2012 1:46 pm

    Hi J. Thanks for your question. Microsporidia is a spore-forming parasite. You are right that it is a rather unusual organism in that it can be treated by certain anitbiotics and certain antifungals as well. Check out this write-up on it:

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