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Local doctors return cases of soft contact lens solution

May 18, 2006 |

A potentially blinding eye infection has been spreading among wearers of soft contact lenses, prompting lens maker Bausch & Lomb to pull one of its many brands of lens-care solution from store shelves and local users to question their doctors.

Contact wearers were told last month to stop using ReNu with MoistureLoc, and local optometrists and ophthalmologists have returned cases upon cases of the product, which was voluntarily recalled worldwide by Bausch & Lomb on Monday.

"We just sent back all of the cases that were recently distributed to us," said Dr. Robert V. Serych, an optometrist at Dr. Serych and Associates at the Beaver Valley Mall.

The federal Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which are conducting a joint investigation, have been inspecting the company's plant in Greenville, S.C., but haven't turned up any evidence of contamination, although testing is ongoing and results could take weeks.

Last month, the agencies began alerting health-care professionals and their patients who wear soft lenses that nationwide reports of Fusarium keratitis, a rare but serious fungal eye infection that can cause blindness, were increasing.

Health authorities have confirmed more than 100 cases of the infection, which for some patients has caused significant vision loss that resulted in the need for corneal transplants. The CDC has cautioned that not all of the infections involve Bausch & Lomb exclusively. Three cases involved Alcon solutions, and another three were linked to Advanced Medical Optics solutions.

Serych said none of his patients have been affected by the fungal infection, but in the last two to three weeks, many have been asking questions.

"To my knowledge, there have been no reported cases of this fungus in our area, in the Pittsburgh area, which is fortunate," Serych said.

His office has advised patients to dispose of the MoistureLoc solution if they have it. Patients have been given samples of comparable solutions in their place, he said.

In a statement from Bausch & Lomb, and in a commercial aired by the company, officials say that the product will not be reintroduced to the market and that former users can try ReNu MultiPlus or ReNu Multi-Purpose brands.

Serych said there haven't been any final conclusions that Bausch & Lomb's solution is contaminated.

"This just happens to be one of many solutions that patients of this fungus have identified using at one point. This could all be for nothing. They have no idea," Serych said.

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