Canadian Researchers: "Six-fold Increase"
The link between the infection and the solution was made by US researchers, who have joined forces with Canadian doctors to document the recent rise in the infection.
Canadian ophthalmologist Simon Holland is an expert on the disease. He and researchers at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control have seen a six-fold increase in the infection between 2000 and 2005/2006. Dr. Holland reports that a large increase in cases has also been recorded in Toronto.
Dr. Holland has had five AK patients in the last year. Because the condition is rare, he notes, it is often misdiagnosed, causing patients to lose precious time. At least one quarter of AK patients end up requiring a cornea transplant.
People across Canada have been affected, from Newfoundland and Labrador to Vancouver Island.
A Toronto school teacher who used the AMO solution has been diagnosed with AK will likely will require a cornea transplant. "I have been living with excruciating pain since November, 2006 and am now legally blind in my right eye as a result of the AK infection," she said.
A University of BC man had been using the AMO solution for three or four years, when last fall an eye irritation rapidly progressed into something more serious. Doctors were shocked to discover he had AK. "Even the doctors just thought it was too rare to be believable - they had the books out," he said.
Doctors took a tissue sample from the surface of his eye with a razor blade. "I could see that razor blade going across the surface of my eye," he said.
He received corneal surgery in February and is still recovering.
Anthony Apelo-Cruz, a patient of Dr. Holland's and user of AMO products, also suffered from AK. He had to have a corneal transplant and vows he will never wear contacts again.
Studies Document Link between Solution and AK
READ MORE LEGAL NEWSSince the May recall, researchers have been delving into the causes and effects of the AK outbreak, with an ongoing multi-agency investigation in Canada and the US. Prominent ophthalmologists have been studying the outbreak, with recent results of a team study published in the July issue of the American Journal of Ophthalmology.
According to the study, "Exclusive use of [the solution] was independently associated with AK in multivariable analysis."
The scientists went on to outline "a pattern of risk," stating that "further research into risk factors is warranted, especially considering this is the second outbreak of an atypical, contact lens-related infection."
Warning for Contact Lens Wearers
Health Canada warns that early diagnosis is essential for treating AK. Symptoms include: eye pain or redness; blurred vision; sensitivity to light; sensation of something in the eye; or excessive tearing. If you used AMO COMPLETE All-In-One Contact Lens Care Solution, consult with your ophthalmologist.