Bausch & Lomb Settles Suits Over Eye Fungus Linked to Lens Solution

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By David Goguen on June 01, 2009 7:57 AM

The Solution Was the Problem in a 2006 Recall

Bausch & Lomb has settled almost 600 lawsuits in the past year, personal injury cases that were filed over eye problems caused by ReNu with MoistureLoc contact lens solution. The lens cleaning product was pulled from the market in 2006 after it was linked to a fungal infection that caused blindness and necessitated eye removal in the most serious cases.

According to the Boston Globe, details of the ongoing lawsuit settlements -- believed to total about $250 million -- aren't currently available, and the lack of a complete resolution to the legal claims isn't the best avenue toward a full understanding of what really went wrong: "Some eye doctors are still hoping that some of the lawsuits. . .will end up in court, so that the events that led to hundreds of fungal infection lawsuits will be aired publicly."

The April 13, 2006 voluntary withdrawal of ReNu with MoistureLoc products was prompted by over 100 cases of a fungal infection called "fusarium keratitis," which affects the cornea. The initial cases were reported in at least 17 states, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). By May 2006, Bausch & Lomb issued a worldwide recall of the product, declaring that "there may be some aspect of the MoistureLoc formula that might increase the risk of Fusarium infection in rare circumstances."

Federal health officials have long suspected a link between fusarium keratitis and use of soft contact lenses, and are trying to better understand the risk to the more than 30 million soft contact lens users in the U.S. Although the annual rate of fungal keratitis occurrence is about 5 to 20 per 10,000 soft contact lens users, the infection rates are higher in warm climates and in people who leave their contact lenses in overnight. Learn more about Fusarium Keratitis from CDC.gov.