Contact lens advice may harm eyes

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 July, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 July, 1995, 12:00am

WEARERS of soft contact lenses who follow advice offered by the Consumer Council may end up damaging their eyes rather than protecting them, according to one maker of lens cleaning solutions.

The council on Saturday issued a test showing half the 16 contact lens solutions they lab-tested did not kill acanthamoeba, a bacteria which can cause eye disease or possibly blindness.

However, Greg Wu Chor-nam, professional services director of the Hong Kong subsidiary of Bausch & Lomb, said this could mislead consumers into choosing extremely powerful disinfectant cleaners, which could potentially hurt their eyes.

Of the eight disinfection systems based on chemicals, the only two which passed the council's test included the chemical chlorexidine, which in some people can trigger allergic reactions.

Mr Wu said the lab tests performed for the Consumer Council by the Faculty of Medicine at Chinese University concentrated only on disinfection, and excluded the cleaning and rinsing processes which, according to one British study, could alone kill all the acanthamoeba on a lens.

He said this bacteria was so rare that American tests on contact lens cleaners did not even measure their effectiveness against it. He called on the council to do further, more relevant tests.

The council admitted on Saturday that 'acanthamoeba is a rare disease' and that other aspects of lens care, such as cleaning, rinsing and removing proteins, 'are equally important in avoiding eye infection from contact lens wear'.