Man nearly loses sight after using contact lens formula
May 31, 2007
BY JIM RITTER Science Reporter [email protected]
A few months after getting a pair of soft contact lenses, Rocco Ryg began to suffer excruciating pain in his left eye.
The throbbing kept Ryg up at night. His eye was red, and so painfully sensitive to light that he had to wear dark sunglasses.
Ryg needed a cornea transplant to save his eyesight.
Then his right eye went bad. Ryg underwent a second cornea transplant at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he's a senior.
Ryg had been using a contact lens solution, AMO Complete MoisturePlus, that was pulled from the market Friday.
It was the second time in 14 months that a contact lens solution was yanked after being linked to a rare and potentially blinding eye infection.
Last year, Bausch & Lomb pulled ReNu with MoistureLoc after it was linked to a fungal infection.
The latest problem is an infection called Acanthamoeba keratitis, or AK, caused by a microscopic amoeba. It was first reported by UIC researchers, who noticed a spike in Chicago area cases.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 138 confirmed cases among 35 million contact lens users. Of the 46 cases with complete data, 39 involved soft contact lenses. The risk of getting AK was at least seven times higher among people who used AMO Complete MoisturePlus than those who used other solutions.
Contact lens solutions do not kill 100 percent of waterborne germs. Until recently, that hasn't been much of a problem. But now there have been two outbreaks, involving different germs and lens solutions.
Is water the culprit?
This suggests to UIC researchers that maybe the water is at least partly to blame. They note that federal regulations that took effect between 2002 and 2004 reduced the amount of chlorine added to drinking water supplies.
The regulations were intended to reduce chemical contamination. But the regulations also may have increased the amount of microscopic bugs that can cause eye infections, according to UIC researchers Charlotte Joslin and Dr. Elmer Tu.
Complete MoisturePlus is a multipurpose solution used to cleanse, rinse, store and disinfect contact lenses. Ryg used it "because it was the cheapest on the shelf."
If caught early, AK usually can be treated successfully with eye drops. But AK often is misdiagnosed because symptoms are similar to those of more common eye conditions.
Advanced cases often require cornea transplants, and nearly half of these transplants fail, Tu said.
Fortunately, both of Ryg's transplants succeeded, and he can now see 20-20 with glasses. He says he's through with contact lenses.