48% Of Bottled Spring
Water Found To Have Bacteria
NEW YORK - It is not a good idea to rinse contact lenses with bottled water, according to Texas researchers.
They note that many consumers assume that bottled water is sterile " it often is not " and are unaware that bottled water can contaminate contact lenses with bacteria, leading to eye infections.
A test of 23 brands of noncarbonated bottled water sold in grocery stores revealed that 48% contained some type of microorganism, such as bacteria, yeast, mold or amebae.
One out of three of the brands (30%) tested contained high levels of bacteria, or coliform bacteria, a type of organism that is an indicator of the presence of human or animal waste, according to a report in the journal Ophthalmology, published by the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
"Tap and bottled water are not recommended for use with contact lenses, because of the possibility of microbial contamination," report Rebecca Penland and Dr. Kirk Wilhelmus, of the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. "However, many people perceive bottled water as safer and cleaner than tap water."
To determine the safety of using bottled water in conjunction with contact lenses, the researchers tested two samples from 23 brands of water, including brands sold as "spring," "glacier," or "drinking" water.
Half of the "drinking" water samples contained some type of growth, compared with 33% of the "spring" water samples. Forty-three percent of the "drinking" water samples contained high levels of bacteria or coliform bacteria compared with 13% of the "spring" water samples. Both samples of a "glacier" water brand that were tested contained low levels of a bacteria found in the human urinary tract.
Overall, 12 of the 23 brands had no bacteria or fungi in either of the water samples tested, but in 6 brands, both samples were contaminated with some type of microorganism, according to the report.
While the risk of becoming sick from noncoliform bacteria found in bottled water is negligible for healthy individuals, they may pose a risk if introduced into the eye. Five out of six contact lenses exposed to contaminated water for just one minute were found to be contaminated with bacteria 24 hours later.
"Brief exposure to bottled water can contaminate contact lenses," the authors conclude. "This study underscores the importance of using sterile solutions for rinsing and storing contact lenses."