April 11, 2006 (San
Francisco) People who wear soft contact lenses may be at
increased risk for a rare but serious eye infection. Known
as Fusarium Kerititis, the infection could cause permanent
vision loss if left untreated. More than 100 people in the
US have been diagnosed in the last 10 months with this
condition. Eight required corneal transplants.
The American Academy of
Ophthalmology is working closely with the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC), who issued a report April 10
about 109 cases of suspected infection reported in 17
states. The FDA has issued a public health notification
regarding fungal keratitis among soft contact lens wearers.
The CDC has interviewed 30
people—28 wore soft contact lenses, and 26 of those
remembered using Bausch & Lomb ReNu brand contact lens
solution in the month before the infection. Bausch & Lomb
announced April 10 that it is stopping U.S. shipments of its
ReNu with MoistureLoc contact lens solution as the
According to the FDA, soft
contact lens wearers who have existing supplies of ReNu with
MoistureLoc should use the product with caution and report
any signs or symptoms of eye infection to their physician.
Lenses Generally Safe,
But Use Precautions
With more than 35 million
wearers in the United States, contact lens wear is generally
safe, said Richard L. Abbott, M.D., clinical professor of
cornea and external diseases at the University of California
San Francisco Department of Ophthalmology and secretary for
quality care and knowledge base development at the Academy.
“In fact, contact lenses are one of the
safest medical devices. However, because of the potentially serious nature
of these infections, we advise all lens wearers to be especially vigilant,”
said Dr. Abbott.
Anyone who experiences the following symptoms
is urged to contact an ophthalmologist immediately:
The Academy and the FDA
recommend the following safe practices if you wear contact
Wash your hands with
soap and water and dry them before handling lenses.
Wear and replace your
lenses according to the schedule prescribed by your
Follow instructions from
your doctor and your solution manufacturer for cleaning
and storing your lenses.
Make sure you always use
fresh solution and replenish the solution daily
Keep your contact lens
case clean and replace every three to six months.
Remove the lenses and
consult an ophthalmologist immediately if your eyes
become red or irritated or your vision changes.
Regardless of what
cleaning/disinfecting solution you use, consider
performing a “rub and rinse” lens cleaning method rather
than a “no-rub” method in order to minimize the number
of germs to reduce the chances of infection.
The Investigation Continues
The source of the infections
has not been pinpointed, but the FDA, CDC, contact lens
solution manufacturers and state and local health
departments continue to look into the case reports. They are
seeking to define the specific behaviors or products that
seem to be placing contact lens wearers at increased risk
for Fusarium keratitis.
Eye care providers have been
notified of this problem with soft contact lenses. If you
have any concerns about your contact lenses, you should
contact an eye care specialist.