Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Solution to the contact lens solutions

If you have used any Bausch & Lomb product, I am sure it was very shocking to hear the news about contamination in ReNu contact lens solution. I used Bausch & Lomb on and off for many years. When I went for eye-exam last year, my optometrist told me that ReNu doesn’t fit very well with my eyes. He asked me not to use ReNu anymore. It was Jan 2005, well before any of these contamination news came to the picture. My optometrist suggested to use AoSept.

If you haven’t heard about ReNu mess, here is the brief summary: Bausch & Lomb Inc. recalled its ReNu with MoistureLoc contact-lens solution 7 months ago. This product had been linked to a serious fungal eye infection that can lead to blindness.

After Bausch & Lomb scare, everyone asks optometrists and ophthalmologists for the alternatives. Doctors say that lens wearers can enhance the safety of multipurpose solutions through careful use. They also recommend to use hydrogen-peroxide systems that offer an alternative -- though less convenient -- way to care for lenses. AoSept is the hydrogen-peroxide system. AoSept is also marketed as "Clear Care".

Hydrogen peroxide is regarded as an effective cleanser but must be used carefully, and can burn and sting if it accidentally comes in direct contact with the eye (though small amounts won't cause permanent damage). Believe me, it can really burn. I accidentally poured AoSept in the container meant for OxySept (Copycat Chinese version). AoSept is very discriminating, it doesn’t clean the lenses when it’s poured in competitor’s container. When I casually put the lens back in my eye the next day morning, it was almost like someone putting a fire in my eye. It was really bad. I had to wear the glasses for whole day.

The only safety concern with hyderogen peroxide solution is that they won’t work with some of the newer types of lenses, known as silicon hydrogels, they retain too much peroxide during their overnight soak.

Disposable contacts are another option, but only daily disposables can be used without disinfecting solution..If you are wearing any other contacts, regular checkup with optometrist is a must…To make sure there is no corneal staining, a pattern of spots indicating superficial damage, a common side effect for lens users with dry eyes.

Some optometrists feel that their patients are engaged in an activity called "topping off," that is adding new solution on top of old solution when placing lenses in their case. Instead, optometrists say, users should completely empty and clean their lens case after every use before filling it with entirely new solution. That will decrease some of the microbial content that can cause eye infections. Optometrists recommend frequently replacing lens cases, perhaps as often as every month. The cases, if neglected or used for too long, can become hotbeds for bacteria. Lens-solution manufacturers have caught on to this advice and now more frequently include new cases in packages.

In June, Ciba Vision (maker of AoSept) began including a new lens case with its multipurpose solution, Aquify. The Pro-Guard Lens Case contains silver, meant to help eliminate microbes festering within the container. The company says a clinical trial found that the silver atoms reduce the chance of outside contamination by 40%.

Other tips for contact-lens safety may seem obvious, but optometrists say their patients often fail to follow them: Wash your hands before handling your contacts, don't rinse your lenses in tap water, and try to touch only the outside of the lens when placing it on your eye. Some optometrists also caution against swimming with lenses in. They call the pools as "contaminated area," and recommend that if people don't take out their contacts, they should wear goggles or keep their eyes closed.

Ok, I deviated from my main topic. If you have sensitive eyes, AoSept is the best choice. It’s expensive, it’s not very easy to use. Still, I don’t want to take any chances. Another better alternative may be to undergo laser surgery. I am not comfortable about going thru laser surgery, because of night vision problems associated with lasik whether it is old lasik or custom lasik. I will wait for few more years to see if the researchers come up with better alternatives. Until then, I will safely keep my glasses, just in case.

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