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Recalled contact solution from Bausch and Lomb a source of pain for some in Grand Island

Aug 9, 2006 | It was June 24 when Cindy Branting noticed slight discomfort in her eye during a family trip to Grand Island. Last week, after weeks of indescribable pain, medication and difficulty, she was finally given a clean bill of health.

"I was fortunate we were able to catch it when we did," said Branting, who lives in Shelby. "If it had gone untreated much longer, it could have done serious damage. Right now, I don't think there's any major vision loss."

Branting contracted a fungus in her eye known as Fusarium Keratitis, most likely from a recalled contact solution called ReNu with MoistureLoc distributed by Bausch and Lomb. While the company recalled the product in March because of problems with Fusarium Keratitis, Branting, who works at Annie Jeffrey Memorial Hospital in Osceola, didn't hear of the recall.

Now that her ordeal is almost over, after she painfully applied medication every hour and underwent procedures where doctors scraped her cornea, she's keen to let others who might still be using the product know of the dangers.

She's not alone. Dr. Michelle Gleason of Gleason-Janky Eye Physicians in Grand Island said she has seen patients still using the ReNu with MoistureLoc months after the recall went out.

"I had a patient (Branting) who had an infection and did OK with it, but I had a patient come in recently who was still using that solution," she said. "Sometimes people buy a lot at a time and they could be at risk. We wanted the public to be very aware of this situation."

Gleason said if you've used ReNu with MoistureLoc recently and not suffered any symptoms such as pain or intense itching, you have nothing to worry about but should throw away the rest of your supply.

If you've used it in the past and not seen any symptoms, you're similarly in the clear, though Gleason said you're at risk if you continue to use the solution.

Fusarium Keratitis begins with minor irritation but progresses quickly. In Branting's case, she first noticed a problem on a Saturday and experienced intense pain the next day while traveling to Omaha to take her daughter to Children's Hospital, where she had a surgery scheduled.

"It was so bad I walked across the street (from Children's Hospital) and went to the ER at Methodist," she said. "By that Tuesday, I couldn't even function. I couldn't tell how bad it hurt. It felt like there were razor blades in my eye."

The ER initially diagnosed her problem as "gouges in my cornea," but when the problem didn't resolve itself, Branting sought out a specialist and found Gleason. To treat the infection, Gleason prescribed drops that caused blistering on Branting's eyelids and had to be administered once an hour, every hour, even during the night.

While the disease is serious, it appears as if Branting escaped any major lasting damage to her eyes. But it's too early to be sure. More importantly, she knows of others who didn't hear about the recall and were using ReNu with MoistureLoc, unaware of the possible dangers.

Gleason says it's important for people to understand eye disease and work to prevent it.

"Any time a patient has a red eye, they need to come in and be seen," she said. "The earlier we catch this stuff, the better."

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