Number of confirmed cases of serious eye infections climb: American Optometric Association examines CDC data

Multiple solutions potentially linked: Optometrists urge patients to consult their eye doctor

May 5, 2006 — /PRNewswire/ — ST. LOUIS, Mo. — New information released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirms that an aggressive fungal eye infection associated with contact lens use is now in 31 U.S. states and may be affecting more than 200 people. Today the CDC released new data indicating 102 confirmed cases of Fusarium keratitis, 12 possible cases and 81 cases that are still under investigation. Additional data also released this week by the CDC confirmed that five types of contact lens solution were used by people suffering from Fusarium keratitis.

Doctors of optometry from the American Optometric Association’s (AOA) Contact Lens and Cornea Section are reviewing the reports and continuing to confer with health officials to provide patients with further information and address any misinformation regarding the solutions involved in this investigation.

U.S. health officials said 32 of 58 people with fungal infections used Bausch & Lomb’s ReNu(R) with MoistureLoc(R), which Bausch & Lomb voluntarily pulled from the market April 10, while 15 more used ReNu MultiPlus(R) and seven used other unspecified ReNu brands. Six other patients reported using solutions made by Advanced Medical Optics (AMO) and Alcon. Some patients reported using more than one solution.

“There are a lot of confused contact lens wearers out there, and we are aggressively reaching out to them,” 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. “While we realize the importance of due diligence throughout this investigation process, we are hoping for a swift, definitive conclusion from federal health officials to ease patient concerns and minimize further risk.”

On April 13, Bausch & Lomb asked retailers to remove their ReNu with MoistureLoc brand contact lens solution nationwide. However, 22 patients who have contracted the infection have told investigators they used ReNu MultiPlus or an unspecified ReNu solution.

Doctors of optometry remind consumers that only slightly more than 200 cases of infection have been reported to the CDC compared to the more than 30 million Americans who safely and successfully wear contact lenses. “Contact lenses are among the safest forms of vision correction; however, lenses and lens care products are medical devices that are regulated by the FDA,” said Dr. Epstein. “Patients should stay in close contact with their eye doctor to ensure they are receiving appropriate and up-to-date clinical guidance based on individual eye health needs.”

AOA optometrists continue to take 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. Health authorities in Europe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia are investigating similar cases. Investigators in Singapore also have found a strong association between the eye infections and the use of Bausch & Lomb solutions.

Doctors of optometry are educating patients about the differences among lens care solutions. According to the AOA Contact Lens and Cornea Section, most solutions are approved for use without rubbing when disinfecting; however, during this time, optometrists are recommending that all patients rub and then rinse their lenses according to package instructions 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 important to Americans’ eye health.

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. Replace your lenses on schedule as directed by your optometrist.

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.

Doctors remind patients to remain aware of the signs of infection and urge anyone who experiences the following symptoms to contact their optometrist immediately:

— Red and irritated eyes lasting for an unusually long period of time after lens removal
— Pain in and around the eyes especially if it progressively worsens
— Increased sensitivity to light
— Sudden blurred or fuzzy vision
— Excessive eye tearing or discharge

About the American Optometric Association (AOA):

The American Optometric Association represents more than 34,000 doctors of optometry, optometry students and paraoptometric assistants and technicians. Optometrists provide more than two-thirds of all primary eye care in the United States and serve patients in nearly 6,500 communities across the country. In 3,500 of those communities they are the only eye doctors.

American Optometric Association doctors of optometry are highly qualified, trained doctors on the frontline of eye and vision care who examine, diagnose, treat and manage diseases and disorders of the eye. In addition to providing eye and vision care, optometrists play a major role in a patient’s overall health and well-being by detecting systemic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.

Prior to optometry school, optometrists undergo three to four years of undergraduate study that typically culminates in a bachelor’s degree with extensive, required coursework in areas such as advanced health, science and mathematics. Optometry school consists of four years of post-graduate, doctoral study concentrating on both the eye and systemic health. In addition to their formal training, doctors of optometry must undergo annual continuing education to stay current on the latest standards of care. For more information, visit

Source: American Optometric Association

CONTACT: Liz Dvorachek, +1-312-255-3036 (O), or +1-773-580-5640 (C), or
[email protected] , or Ken Chitester, +1-312-475-5980 (O), or
+1-773-858-5021 (C), or [email protected] , both of American
Optometric Association

Web site:


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