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Doctors of Optometry Support Bausch &Lomb's Solution Recall, Urge Contact Lens Wearers to Discontinue Use

AOA Advising Contact Lens Wearers to Take Proper Precautions as Investigation Continues

Following Bausch &Lomb’s voluntary recall on Thursday of its ReNu® with MoistureLoc® brand contact lens solution, doctors of optometry from the American Optometric Association’s (AOA) Contact Lens and Cornea Section concur with the company’s decision to remove the product nationwide.

Although a cause has not been officially determined, health officials from the federal government are investigating reports that Fusarium keratitis, a severe corneal fungal infection, has been potentially linked to the ReNu® with MoistureLoc® brand contact lens solution.

“Patients should immediately discontinue using ReNu® with MoistureLoc® until further notice and should continue to watch for additional information from the FDA and CDC over the next few days,” said Arthur Epstein, O.D., chair of the Contact Lens and Cornea Section of the AOA and a nationally recognized expert on contact lens complications. “This is a serious infection that can cause permanent loss of sight. It is crucial that the public and eye care professionals are aware and remain vigilant to quickly diagnose and initiate treatment of this serious eye disease.”

AOA optometrists are taking an active role in reporting their cases to the CDC and the FDA, where all eye doctors are strongly urged to report diagnosed cases of Fusarium keratitis. As of April 9, 2006, 109 cases of suspected Fusarium keratitis are under investigation by the CDC and public health authorities in 17 states around the United States. Federal and state health officials have interviewed 30 of those patients. Of the 28 who wore soft contact lenses, 26 reported using Bausch & Lomb’s ReNu® brand or a generic brand manufactured by Bausch & Lomb.

On Monday, Bausch & Lomb voluntarily suspended shipment of the solution. Stores across the country, including CVS, Rite Aid, Wal-Mart and Walgreens, began pulling the solution from their shelves on Wednesday.

A recent similar outbreak of severe corneal infections in Asia also prompted Bausch & Lomb to pull the product from the shelves in Singapore after 39 confirmed cases of Fusarium emerged. According to Dr. Epstein, evidence from the Singapore situation indicates that some patients will use what they have left of the solution before starting a new brand.

“This is a great concern to optometrists across the country,” said Dr. Epstein. “We are urging Americans to discontinue use of ReNu® with MoistureLoc® immediately and switch to an alternative product.” Patients should contact their optometrist if they are in doubt as to what an acceptable alternative product would be.

As consumers look to select a new solution, doctors of optometry are educating consumers about the differences between lens care products. According to the AOA Contact Lens and Cornea Section, most solutions are approved for use without rubbing; however, optometrists are recommending at this time that patients rub their lenses to enhance cleaning for additional safety.

In addition, regardless of which cleaning/disinfecting solution consumers use, contact lens wearers should take extra precautions with lens hygiene habits. According to the AOA, clean and safe handling of contact lenses is one of the most important measures Americans can take to protect their sight.

Top 6 Recommendations for Clean and Safe Contact Lenses

  1. Always wash your hands before handling contact lenses.
  2. Carefully and regularly clean contact lenses, as directed by your optometrist. If recommended, rub the contact lenses with fingers and rinse thoroughly before soaking lenses overnight in sufficient multi-purpose solution to completely cover the lens.
  3. Store lenses in the proper lens storage case and replace the case every three months. Clean the case after each use, and keep it open and dry between cleanings.
  4. Use only products recommended by your optometrist to clean and disinfect your lenses. Saline solution and rewetting drops are not designed to disinfect lenses.
  5. Only fresh solution should be used to clean and store contact lenses. Never re-use old solution. Contact lens solution must be changed according to the manufacturer's recommendations, even if the lenses are not used daily.
  6. Always replace old contacts when you get a new contact lens prescription.

When wearing or cleaning contacts:

  • Never put contact lenses in the mouth or moisten them with saliva, which is full of bacteria and a potential source of infection.
  • Don’t use tap water or homemade saline solutions. Improper use of solutions has been linked to a potentially blinding condition among soft lens wearers.
  • Never use contacts that have not been prescribed by an eye doctor. Contact lens wear is not an option for everyone; consult with an optometrist to see if contact lenses are an appropriate choice for vision correction.

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