AMO Complete MoisturePlus Caused Living Hell

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Toronto, ONTDiane Harris spent several agonizing months trying to find a cure for her serious eye infection. Finally, she found an ophthalmologist who diagnosed her with Acanthamoeba keratitis—she had been using AMO Complete MoisturePlus for some time.

"I was using the product for about six months before I had symptoms of an eye infection," says Harris (not her real name). That was in September, 2006 and AMO Complete Moisture Plus was recalled May 25, 2007. It is alleged that the manufacturer,
Advanced Medical Optics, knew the solution was contaminated way before Harris' excruciating pain began.

AMO lens infection"My doctor thought I had herpes in my eye and gave me all kinds of different drops, including steroids. Nothing worked. Finally I saw a corneal specialist and he diagnosed me with Acanthamoeba keratitis (AK). He told me that I must have contracted this ocular disease from a swimming pool, hot tub or sauna. That was impossible—I hadn't been near any of them. Then he said there was a slight possibility that I scratched my cornea and water got into it. I never believed this reasoning either.

The Agony
This is what AK does: I have amoebas in my eye that caused the corneas to turn white. My pupil turned white and all around it looks like an aura of red. My symptoms started with excruciating pain and I still have chronic pain, every waking moment of my life. I would say the pain was unbearable for at least five months. I was always healthy and exercised regularly. Now I would go upstairs to my room after work and turn off all the lights. It was so hard for my family to watch me.

There isn't a second in my life that I am not aware of this disease. I have to wear sunglasses and a baseball hat all the time. Artificial light is hell. The pain is better now but the doctor was giving me every narcotic known; then I got it down to five Advil 600 pills per day—like 15 regular advils; it helped the inflammation.

I couldn't eat because of the pain and lost 20 pounds—I didn't need to lose any weight. Everyone at work was very concerned that I lost so much weight.

Because of AK, I am now legally blind in my right eye. I can't read, can't watch TV, and I need to have computer screen at the darkest level possible.

My whole life has been affected. I work part-time teacher and private tutor and fulfilled my responsibilities this year but I have to take a leave of absence for the coming school year - I can't put myself through the wringer again. When I was working, my stress level was so high I think it slowed down my healing.

Sleeping is a big challenge. Because of the pressure on my eye, I can't sleep flat and I always wake up with pain. My eye is constantly dripping—you can't imagine the amount of Kleenex I used.

I have tried acupuncture, therapeutic healers and lymphatic drainage. It has been on the expensive side—part of the acupuncture was covered by medical insurance but I have maxed out my limit. As for prescriptions, I have a ton of them. Two of them are not covered by my plan; it is a compound and only one pharmacy in Toronto makes it. The one I use now is from San Jose, CA and I get it couriered every 6 weeks. That costs $100 USD.

Just about every time I go to my ophthalmologist he draws a diagram of my eyes to get a sense of my progress—or not. For quite some time he was concerned that I wasn't healing. My next appointment is a week away but I might have to go sooner because I am experiencing a lot of pressure. My head aches and contributes even more to the pain level.

An Answer
At the end of May, 2007 I received an email from my cousin in Florida telling me about the AMO recall. He is a doctor and I had been consulting with him—he even sent my records to Johns Hopkins. Nobody here in Canada linked AMO with my disease.

I looked on the Internet and knew that was the solution I used. There it was—a picture of a blue bottle and I immediately recognized the bottle. My brother is a lawyer and he suggested I get legal help.

For me, knowing AMO is responsible was an answer—nothing else made sense. I saw my doctor just three weeks ago and he finally asked me what contact lens solution I used. Why wasn't he told sooner?

When I found out that Advanced Medical Optics allegedly knew AMO was contaminated it didn't surprise me. Money and Power is a common language.

I hope that I will be able to have a corneal transplant. I hope I will be eligible and that this amoeba has not completely destroyed my eye - if it has, I won't be eligible for a transplant. I won't know until my eye has settled down - that won't happen for at least a few months—after I stop all my meds. I am not even close to getting off the meds at this point. It is all very frustrating.

It is hard to imagine how bad I felt when this nightmare began. I don't know if I will ever be the same again. Realistically, I will always have eye difficulty but I hope for some semblance of normalcy a year or so from now. I just don't know.

Concern for Others
There doesn't seem to be many specialists—even in city centers—who recognize AK; it keeps getting misdiagnosed as herpes. My doctor is an AK specialist and if you didn't live in a city like Toronto it would be very difficult to diagnose. I participate in an AK forum online and noticed that many sufferers in the U.S. traveled hundreds of miles to find the right medical help and get the correct diagnosis.

I just want to say one more thing:

After the recall I went into my local Loblaws [supermarket] and saw that AMO Complete MoisturePlus was still on the shelf. I took them off and gave them to the pharmacist but I went back the next day and the bottles were back on the shelf! My pharmacist was surprised—he seemed powerless. Obviously, he hadn't been notified by Advanced Medical Optics, the maker of the solution, or Health Canada for that matter.

And what about the people suffering from AK who cannot watch TV, can't read the newspaper—people who suffered like me? How will they learn of the recall?

I think there are a lot of people out there who are still suffering and don't know the reason why."

A few Facts
The U.S. recall included approximately 183,000 units of AMO Complete MoisturePlus.

Since January 2005, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control has confirmed 138 cases of AK.

"Contact lens wearers should consult with their eye doctor if they have any of the following symptoms: eye pain, eye redness, blurred vision, sensitivity to light, sensation of something in the eye and excessive tearing,'' said a statement from Advanced Medical Optics.

AK also leads to vision loss, as Diane Harris attests. And some patients, if they are lucky, may require a corneal transplant.

So far, AMO Canada has said there is no available data on how many Canadians may have been affected.

AMO Lens Solution Canada Legal Help

If you or a family member developed an eye infection or blindness in Canada after using AMO Complete MoisturePlus Multi-Purpose lens solution, please contact a lawyer involved in a possible [AMO Lens Solution Canada Lawsuit] who will review your case at no cost or obligation.

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