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Contact lenses may infect eyes

After 109 people became infected with a potentially-blinding fungal eye infections in the US, Bausch & Lomb?s lens solution ? ReNu with MoistureLoc ? has come under the scanner.

india Updated: Apr 14, 2006 02:10 IST

After 109 people became infected with a potentially-blinding fungal eye infections in the US, Bausch & Lomb’s lens solution — ReNu with MoistureLoc — has come under the scanner. Following reports that most of those infected had used the product, the company stopped shipments but not sales of the solution. Still, several stores in the US voluntarily took the solution, and in some cases other products in the ReNu line, off their shelves.

Of the 109 infection cases in the US, eight needed corneal transplants to prevent blindness. Of the 30 cases investigated, 28 people wore soft contact lenses and all but two used ReNu products for cleaning. Of the 26 cases where people remembered which lens cleaner they had used, 21 had used ReNu cleaners exclusively and the rest had used them along with other products.

There are seven lakh contact lens users in India, 70 per cent of whom use Bausch and Lomb cleaning solutions. ReNu with MoistureLoc solution was introduced in India about six months ago. "The recent voluntary and temporary suspension by Bausch & Lomb US of shipments of ReNu with MoisutureLoc produced at its Greenville facility in US following incidences in the US of the rare fungal infection, Fusarium Keratitis, among contact lens wearers, does not affect any other Bausch & Lomb product and has no impact on India," says JP Singh, MD, Bausch & Lomb India.

A clear link between the lens solution and the fungal infection is yet to be established. "The data are not as clear or as specific as we would like. We do believe there is a numerical association with the Bausch & Lomb ReNu product. Within the analysis, we believe that the highest association is with the ReNu with MoistureLoc solution," announced Dr Daniel Schultz, director of the US Food and Drug administration’s device centre. A similar outbreak in February in Hong Kong and Singapore led Bausch & Lomb to stop shipping ReNu with MoistureLoc to those countries.

"Stop using contact lens with any redness, pain, discharge, watering, an increased sensitivity to light or blurred or disturbed vision should see an eye specialist, who can prescribe topical and oral anti-fungal medications. Precautions such as cleaning the lenses with clean hands should help keep them clean," says Dr Mahipal S Sachdev, director, Centre for Sight.