Bausch & Lomb Pulls Lens-Solution Linked to Fungus Outbreak

Bausch & Lomb Inc. said Monday it has permanently removed from the market a contact-lens solution that has been linked to an outbreak of fungal eye infections that can cause blindness.

"Bausch & Lomb's top priority is the safety of our customers, and we want them to have complete confidence in our products," the eye care company's chief executive, Ronald Zarrella, said Monday.

Federal health authorities said Friday that the number of confirmed cases of Fusarium keratitis has climbed to 122, most of them contact-lens wearers who reported using Bausch & Lomb's newest cleaner, ReNu with MoistureLoc MultiPurpose Solution.

The company halted U.S. sales of MoistureLoc on April 13 after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was investigating an unusual spike in infections in Americans using the product.

While the CDC reiterated that the origin remains a mystery, some eye specialists theorized that MoistureLoc's unique disinfecting and moisturizing agents could have played a role in the outbreak, which first surfaced in the Far East.

Of the more than 30 million Americans who wear contact lenses, nearly 11 million use MultiPlus, which was launched a decade ago. Another 2.3 million people use MoistureLoc, which was introduced in late 2004 and accounted for $45 million in U.S. sales last year. Bausch & Lomb also makes contact lenses, ophthalmic drugs and vision-correction surgical instruments and generates more than $2 billion in annual revenues.