Update on Contact Lens Eye Infection
CDC Issues Full Report on Contact Lens-Eye Infection Link
Aug. 22, 2006 -- Users of a recently recalled contact lens solution by
Bausch & Lomb were more than 20 times as likely to develop a potentially
blinding eye infection as nonusers.
The CDC study released today shows that 164 confirmed cases of the corneal
infection Fusarium keratitis were reported in 33 states and a U.S.
territory from June 1, 2005 to June 30, 2006. Ninety-four percent of those
cases were among soft contact lens wearers.
When researchers compared the risk of infection among contact lens wearers,
they found users of the recalled contact lens solution, ReNu with MoistureLoc,
were more than 20 times as likely to develop the infection as nonusers.
Preliminary findings from this CDC investigation were released in May and
prompted the withdrawal of ReNu with MoistureLoc from the market worldwide.
Where Did the Fungus Come From?
The complete report, published in JAMA, the Journal of the American
Medical Association, provides further details of the link between a rare
type of eye infection and the contact lens solution.
Fusarium is a fungus found in soil and plants. Beginning in March 2006, the
CDC began to receive multiple reports of corneal infections caused by this
fungus among contact lens wearers.
The condition is a serious complication that can lead to permanent vision
loss or the need for a corneal transplantation. The cornea is the clear, thin
layer of tissue that covers the iris (the colored part of the eye) and the
Overall, the study showed that 34% of the 164 corneal infection cases
reported required corneal transplantation.
Researchers say it's still not clear what exactly caused the eye infections
to develop. Testing of the factory where the contact lens solution is produced
did not show evidence of the fungus.
The problem was likely due to outside contamination that did not occur
during the manufacturing process, according to researcher Douglas C. Chang, MD,
of the CDC, and colleagues.
They add it's unlikely the main cause for the outbreak could be poor contact
lens hygiene habits.
"Ongoing studies may help to determine if the infections were caused by
an interaction of its ingredients with Fusarium that might have permitted
growth of the organism," conclude the researchers.
Meanwhile, users of Renu with MoistureLoc are urged to stop using the
product; report any infections to their eye care professional; and pay careful
attention to eye hygiene practices, including washing and drying hands prior to
handling lenses, storing lenses in new contact lens solution after each use,
and carefully following directions for use of contact lenses and contact lens
Tips for Preventing Eye Infections
Good contact lens hygiene is recommended even though this Fusarium outbreak
does not appear to have been caused by poor contact lens cleaning.