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|August 2007 Contact Lens related news articles for August 2007|
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Eye Doctors Replace Faulty Lenses
Eye specialists across the country have performed corrective surgery on hundreds of elderly patients after faulty lenses provided by an American-based company were implanted in their eyes.
Last week British attorney Duncan Stackhouse travelled to the United States to negotiate an out-of-court settlement on behalf of 171 victims from South Africa, Britain and Saudi Arabia. It is believed that 125 of these victims are South Africans.
The lenses were also exported to Brazil and India.
'There were four lenses, from different manufacturers, which had complications'
The lenses, called Aquasense, were made by Ophthalmic Innovations, and packaged by Quadra. Reports indicated that the lenses, used for patients with cataracts, fused chemically with their silicone packaging during shipment.
Court papers have been filed against both companies in California.
Weekend Argus spoke to a Cape Town-based doctor who implanted the Aquasense lenses.
The doctor, who asked not to be named, later performed corrective surgery on 40 patients to remove the faulty Aquasense lenses. He described the corrective surgery as "technically difficult and challenging".
"In terms of a normal cataract operation, the cloudy content of the lens capsule, which is behind the pupil, is removed.
"An artificial lens, which is very like a soft contact lens, is then implanted in the lens capsule. You use the same procedure to remove the implanted lens, and implant a different artificial lens."
Medical journals describe the complication that resulted from the use of faulty lenses as opacification of the lenses, which meant they can no longer be seen through.
The doctor said the US company, Ophthalmic Innovations International, was not the only one which had manufactured the defective lenses.
"There were four lenses, from different manufacturers, which had complications, including hazy eye-sight, with a result much like a cataract. But if we do not use new products, medical technology will not advance.
"One of the companies with these lenses was Bausch and Lomb, and we still use their lenses today."
The Journal of Cataract and Refractive Surgery says Bausch and Lomb's Hydroview lenses, Mentor Opthalmics' MemoryLens and MDR's SC60B-OUV lenses, also resulted in opacification.
The Cape Town doctor said the class action was under way because the Aquasense lenses had allegedly not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration in America. The FDA regulates and approves food and medicines.
"The other companies involved at the time took responsibility for the defective lenses. We as doctors also rely on the manufacturers to get the lenses approved.
"This American company apparently knew it had not been approved, and then still made it available to other parts of the world."
He said many of his patients were not interested in taking action against the company. "My patients are elderly people. When there were complications with the lenses, all they wanted to do was get new lenses. They just wanted to move on with their lives."
Although there were media reports of patients who had lost their eyesight, or whose vision was permanently impaired, the doctor said none of his patients had had such serious consequences.
He conceded some of his patients could have gone for corrective surgery elsewhere.
However, according to the doctor, a Gauteng-based doctor performed "hundreds of operations" with the Aquasense lenses.
"They were not as commonly used in Cape Town as they were in Johannesburg."
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