April 11, 2006
An alarming number of people who wear contact lenses have been treated for an eye fungus that can lead to temporary blindness. Officials at the Center for Disease Control can't say for sure, but they are investigating to see if there is a link between the fungus and the popular contact solution ReNu with MoistureLoc. It's maker Bausch and Lomb has stopped shipping the cleansing solution, in case it is indeed to blame.
Four months ago Linda Lorras experienced pain, blurry vision, and an increased sensitivity to light.
"It was my left eye and it just was red and swollen," said Lorras.
Shortly after Lorras went blind. Doctors said it was caused by a fungus, called "fusarium." Lorras had to have surgery to correct it.
While this is an extreme case, over a hundred more just like it have
popped up in the U.S. recently.
"Our Optometric Association has put out alerts," said Charlottesville Optometrist, Dr. Janice DiGirolamo, of Primary Eyecare Associates.
The Centers for Disease Control are in the process of investigating each one. So far, almost all of the people reported using ReNu with MoistureLoc lens solution. ReNu's maker, Bausch & Lomb said their first priority is the health and safety of consumers so they voluntarily suspended shipments of the solution.
Since the CDC have not pointed the finger solely at ReNu, Optometrists like Dr. DiGirolamo are advising contact users to be on the lookout for eye irritations, but it is treatable.
"There are drugs and eye drops that can be put in the eyes that can treat it. It's just getting to the doctor with some promptness to get it taken care of," said DiGirolamo.
This isn't the first time Bausch and Lomb stopped their shipments of the solution. In February, the company halted shipments to Singapore and Hong Kong after a similar outbreak happened there. At this point there is no direct link.
Doctors say the key to preventing most eye infections is to replace your contact lenses on a regular schedule, and do not wear them overnight.