New Zealander blind in one eye because of novelty lens

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Novelty coloured contact lenses have left a 24-year-old man living in Auckland, New Zealand with one blind eye.

The unnamed man wore the novelty lenses for three days, after which he sought medical advice. At that time his cornea was already damaged.

It has been reported that the man, who did not previously require contact lenses, had an infected cornea after wearing the novelty lens. The patient underwent two emergency corneal transplant surgeries to fix his eye and regain vision. The man did not follow instructions given to him to minimize the risk of rejection, and consequently his cornea was destroyed by bacteria.

Doctor Trevor Gray, corneal specialist and president of the Cornea and Contact Lens Society, said: "He's now got an opaque cornea that he can't see out of at all, and has this big white-looking eye like they've got in science fiction movies."

Eye specialists have called for clear instructions to be provided to those buying novelty contact lenses. They also called for regulation and restrictions to be placed on their sale.

A loophole in the Medicines Regulations Act means that a person requiring contact lenses to correct their vision must receive clear information on how to use the contacts, but the law does not apply to novelty contacts. Dr Gray said some novelty lenses do come with good information on how to use them, but others do not. Australia, the United States, and Canada all have laws requiring that proper information be given out with novelty lenses.

The New Zealand Ministry of Health have confirmed that they will follow up the issue.

Dr Gray warns people using the lenses not to share the lenses between people to minimise the risk of catching conjunctivitis, or hepatitis.


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