Practitioners may have read with interest a story in the national press about a woman who claims that a contact lens fungus “ate away her eye.”
Jacqueline Stone, from Rayne in Essex, spent 17 weeks in hospital after wearing Focus Dailies All Day Comfort lenses. She was diagnosed with an infection caused by Fusarium, a fungus which can cause severe infection if it comes into contact with the eye, and after 22 operations, surgeons were forced to remove her eye.
In response to the story, the BCLA is urging contact lens wearers to always buy their contact lenses under the supervision of a registered practitioner and in person.
BCLA president, Dr Catharine Chisholm, said: “Contact lens wearers who buy lenses from sources other than their eye care practitioner have been shown to be less likely to follow good eye care health practices, including being less likely to attend regular aftercare check-ups.
“Thankfully it is extremely rare for someone to develop an eye infection as a result of contact lens wear – and even less common for this to result in a loss of vision or the eye itself,” she added. “However, infections of the cornea can be very serious and are most commonly associated with patients not following the precise instructions for lens care and wear given to them by their eye care practitioner.”
Ms Stone bought the lenses from online retailer Lenstore.co.uk. Some of the press reports stated that Lenstore.co.uk is owned by Alcon. However, Alcon has reiterated that it does not own Lenstore.co.uk or any other online retailer, and the reporter has corrected this information in the story.
Speaking to OT, a spokesperson for Alcon said: “Alcon is aware of the press coverage about an allegation made by a UK consumer that she experienced health-related complications from an eye infection. Based on the investigation conducted by Alcon so far, there is no direct connection between the contact lens and the consumer’s unfortunate experience.”
Before being diagnosed with the fungal infection, Ms Stone had visited Broomfield Hospital in Essex and Moorfields Eye Hospital in London. Specialists at both hospitals prescribed her eye drops, but did not discover the infection.
Commenting on the case, a spokesperson for Moorfields told OT: "Moorfields is sorry to hear Ms Stone’s sad story and offers her our sympathy at this difficult time. We take any allegations about the care received by our patients very seriously and undertake thorough investigations to identify any necessary improvements.
“An initial review of Ms Stone’s case suggests that she received appropriate care during her short time at Moorfields, but we are now conducting a more detailed formal internal investigation and will keep Ms Stone informed and involved as this progresses.”
Geoff Roberson, professional adviser for the AOP, added: “Recent stories in the media may give the public cause for concern when using contact lenses. I would urge members to remind their patients that it is extremely rare for someone to develop an eye infection as a result of contact lens wear, however the importance of good eye health cannot be underestimated and public information about contact lens use can be found on the BCLA website, www.bcla.org.uk.”
Despite claims that Ms Stone is suing both Alcon and Moorfields, spokespersons from the company and hospital have confirmed that no legal claim has been commenced to date.