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Reports Characterize Fungal Eye Infections Among Soft Contact Lens Wearers

CHICAGO - Fusarium, the fungus implicated in recent eye infections among soft contact lens wearers, is associated with an increasing number of cases of keratitis// (corneal swelling and inflammation), according to a report published online today in Archives of Ophthalmology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Infections caused by fungi can be devastating to both the structure of the eye and the patient's vision, according to background information in the article. Keratitis, or swelling and inflammation of the transparent membrane known as the cornea, has been associated with wearing soft contact lenses, but such infections usually have not been caused by fungi. At the authors' institution in south Florida, only three cases of fungal keratitis associated with contact lenses were seen between 1969 and 1977, two between 1977 and 1982 and five between 1982 and 1992.

Eduardo C. Alfonso, M.D., and colleagues at the University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine, report 34 cases of fungal keratitis among soft contact lens wearers from January 2004 to April 2006. The researchers reviewed all 34 patients' medical records and report the clinical characteristics of the infections, the treatment prescribed and the microbiologic features.

All of the cases were associated with the fungus known as Fusarium. The average age of the patients was 34.9 years with a range of 13 to 92 years; 14 were male and 20 female. None had a history of disease that would predispose them to fungal eye infections. Among the 13 patients who could identify the type of contact lens solution they used, 12 reported that they had used some type of ReNu brand solution. This included two who reported that they had used ReNu MoistureLoc, the solution implicated in recent Fusarium outbreaks in the United States and Singapore, and nine who used ReNu brand without specifying a particular product.

Most patients were originally assumed to have a bacterial in
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