American Academy of Ophthalmology Release: Rare Infection May Put Soft Contact Lens Wearers At Risk

SAN FRANCISCO, April 11 /PRNewswire/ -- 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 investigation continues.

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: -- Sudden blurred vision -- Unusual redness -- Pain in your eye -- Excessive tearing or discharge from your eye -- Increased light sensitivity

In addition the Academy and the FDA recommend the following safe practices if you wear contact lenses:

-- 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 doctor. -- 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 ophthalmologist. For a free listing of ophthalmologists in your area, visit and select Find an Eye M.D.

American Academy of Ophthalmology

CONTACT: American Academy of Ophthalmology Media Relations,+1-415-561-8534, or

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