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Eye Fungus Comes Into National Focus

Apr 25, 2006 |

It's a common infection, but Dr. Judith Piros has been getting a lot of anxious phone calls from patients about the eye fungus, also called Fusarium Keratitis. The infection is gaining national attention, after being possibly linked to the contact lens solution, Renu Moisturloc, a cleaning solution that many of Dr. Piros's patients use.

The fungus affects the cornea of the eye. Symptoms include: redness of the eye, sensitivity to light, and blurry vision. "The fungus tends to replicate very slowly, and unfortunately, we have limited medications that actually can treat fungal infections of the cornea they take a very long time to take effect," explained Savannah ophthalmologist, Dr. Judith Piros.

Treatment for the infection takes weeks, sometimes months to clear up, and there's no guarantee. Some people affected by the eye disorder may go blind. But Dr. Piros said if you've used the contact lens solution, don't panic. F.D.A. studies have proven the Renu solution does kill this type of eye fungus. Dr. Piros believes the infection may develop when people don't take proper care of their eyes. "It's a problem with the care of the contact lens," said Dr. Piros," and patients may not seek the health care as quickly as they should, if they have irritation in contact lens."

The eye fungus is showing up in warmer climates, at least 50 of the cases have been found in Florida, in more agricultural areas, already close to 200 people have been affected by the infection.

But with more research still needed on the Renu contact lens solution, Dr. Piros is still recommending to her patients to stop using it, and switch to a different brand for now. "Even with any kind of contact lens cleaning product, you have to make sure that you follow the directions specifically. And there are very specific instructions on how to care for your contact lens. I think that's the safest way to go," said Piros.

Dr. Piros also said the eye fungus is not contagious, so it can't spread from person to person. There have not been any cases of the infection reported in Savannah yet.

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