Within the last two years, a rare eye infection called fungal keratitis has been popping up among contact lens wearers. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found 164 cases in 33 states, and one territory between June 1, 2005 and June 30, 2006. A staggering 94 percent of cases were from wearers of soft contact lenses.
Researchers discovered that a contact lens solution by Bausch & Lomb, known as ReNu with MoistureLoc, was a likely culprit. Users of this solution developed fungal keratitis 20 times more often than non-users. Bausch & Lomb immediately withdrew ReNu with MoistureLoc from the market upon release of this information.
Fungal keratitis is a disease that results from the fungus Fusarium, found in plants and soil. The infection is highly dangerous and can lead to permanent blindness. In some cases, 34 percent of the 164 analyzed, a corneal transplantation was required to save the sufferer’s sight.
At this time, it seems unlikely that you will develop fungal keratitis from using contact lens solution. If you have old bottles of Bausch & Lomb ReNu with MoistureLoc, you should discard them immediately.
However, an examination of the contact lens solution factory did not turn up any evidence that the fungus was present, so other Bausch & Lomb products should be safe to use. While you should keep your lenses clean and follow your doctor’s instructions, poor lens care has not been linked to the development of fungal keratitis.
If you do develop keratitis, contact your eye care professional, who will determine if the keratitis is due to a fungal infection. If you experience excessive redness, blurry vision, pain, swelling, discharge, excessive tearing, increased sensitivity to light or any other unusual eye symptoms, you should remove the lenses and contact your eye care professional. These symptoms do not necessarily imply a fungal infection, but do indicate that you have a problem and may require medical treatment.
Make sure to keep the case in which you keep your contact lenses completely clean and replace it regularly. Be sure to wash your hands with soap and water before handling your contact lenses.