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Bausch & Lomb pulled from campus shelves

Officials connect contact solution to eye fungus

Apr 13, 2006 |

A university administrator chose yesterday to pull all Bausch & Lomb eye contact products from university shelves at least through the weekend, following reports the brand may cause a fungal eye infection that could lead to temporary blindness.

According to a recent Associated Press article, Bausch & Lomb has suspended shipments of ReNu with MoistureLoc eye contact solution, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported may cause Fusarium keratitis, a fungal infection of the eye that causes discomfort and blurriness, and may lead to temporary blindness if the patient does not seek medical attention.

The CDC reported that since January it has noticed an increased number of people suspected of having Fusarium keratitis and has investigated 109 people suspected of being infected.

Though investigations still continue, the CDC discovered that out of 30 patients it studied, 93 percent wore soft contacts. The 26 patients who could remember their contact solution said they used Bausch & Lomb products or solutions. Some patients who reported using additional products used solutions from Advanced Medical Optics, Inc. and Alcon, which are also under investigation.

To be on the safe side, convenience shops administrator Bart Hipple said he decided to remove all Bausch & Lomb products from their five locations on the campus at least until Monday, when he will talk to the quality assurance office of their distributor, Associated Wholesalers Inc.

“We want to tell customers that we are paying attention,” Hipple said. “We would add to the confusion if we left the products on the shelf.”

Dr. Gail Lee, clinical director at the University Health Center, said she is not worried about a breakout at this point because the investigation did not give conclusive evidence linking Bausch & Lomb to the infection. Some patients investigated did not wear contacts or used multiple contact solutions, she said, and 109 people out of 30 million soft contact users in the country is a small percentage.

To investigate the issue further, Lee said she talked to local ophthalmologists in the area, who reported they have never seen the infection.

But Lee said the infection is hard to treat and if the health center had patients suspected of being infected, they would refer them to private clinics. If the clinics were to find evidence of the infection, she said they would probably refer the patients to the Wilmer Eye Institute, the ophthalmologist center at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

Lee said she encourages students who wear contacts to take appropriate precautions, such as not sleeping in them and making sure they are clean.

“Many students stay up late studying and end up sleeping in their contacts,” Lee said. “If you study at night, take your contacts out.”

Lee also suggested to discontinue use of Bausch & Lomb, Advanced Medical Options Inc. and Alcon products because they are the three manufacturers involved in the investigation.

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