CONTACT lens wearers should stop using Bausch & Lombs ReNu lens solution because of a very strong association between it and a recent spate of fungal corneal infections, the Health Ministry said on Tuesday.
Senior Minister of State for Health Dr Balaji Sadasivan said 39 people were now known to have suffered fungal infections of the cornea since January last year, although it was only in the second half of the year that the number of infections shot up.
Of this group, 34 said they had used ReNu to clean their lenses, while four could not remember what they had used and one had not used ReNu.
Investigations into the cause of the infections began in December but it may be months before anything conclusive is known, he said.
As ReNu has only 40% of the market, the great proportion of patients who used it suggests that it could be the cause of the spike in infections.
There are 400,000 contact lens wearers here and an average of about one fungal infection a month.
The ministry says that five cases were diagnosed in the first half of last year, followed by 24 in the second half of the year and 10 last month.
Three in four were teenagers or young adults aged 15 to 34, with about equal numbers of men and women.
Three people had such severe infections that they needed emergency corneal transplants to save their eyesight.
Associate Professor Ang Chong Lye, director of the Singapore National Eye Centre, said the problem could be caused by the solution not cleaning the lenses properly.
Foo Eng Chuan, Bausch & Lombs managing director for South-East Asia, said the company had introduced a new formulation called MoistureLoc in late 2004. The Straits Times / Asia News Network
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