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Big Changes in Internet Searches for "Lasik" After News Reports of Contact Lens Cleaner Problems

Lasik internet search activity drops immediately after news of fungus related problems with contact lens cleaning solution.

A: First News Reports of infection problems suspected in contact lens solution.

B: News report that vision quality outcomes with traditional Lasik and Bladeless Lasik are similar.


Lasik industry insiders may have expected a surge in interest in the popular laser eye surgery that reduces the need for corrective lenses when news programs carried stories of soft contact lens wearers being at increased risk for a rare but serious eye infection. Lasik can be a successful alternative to contact lenses. An analysis of Google search trends indicates that interest in Lasik actually dropped dramatically upon news of potential contact lens problems.

More than half of all Internet searches are generated at

Known as Fusarium Kerititis, the infection associated with a contact lens cleaning solution 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 hunt for a source of the infection has focused on Bausch & Lomb's ReNu with MoistureLoc contact lens solution. Bausch & Lomb has pulled the product from store shelves and halted all production. The majority of those who contracted the fungus used ReNu with MoistureLoc, but not all. A recent preliminary investigation by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could not find a source for the fungus at Bausch & Lomb's Greenville SC manufacturing and packaging plant, where all of the suspect solution originated.


Internet searches for Lasik information (blue) remained high in key regions despite an overall decrease in interest immediately following news of potential contact lens solution problems. Red bars indicate contact lens information searches.


Some Lasik industry analysts speculated that an increased awareness of potential vision threatening problems with contact lenses may spark renewed interest in Lasik, which is surgery with a laser to reshape the cornea (clear front of the eye) and is often a permanent alternative to contacts and glasses. Bad news about contact lenses did not increase interest in Lasik, according to Google search trends. Search volume for Lasik information actually waned.

The number of Lasik procedures performed in recent weeks has flattened to a small growth in volume, according to Dave Harmon, president of MarketScope, a Manchester Missouri based consultancy that tracks the laser industry.

Although overall interest in Lasik information experienced a downturn, some US regions saw a strong interest in Lasik information. Denver, Cincinnati, and Washington DC topped the cities where searches for Lasik information originated.

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