Torn corneas, vision problems reported in recall of 5M contact lenses

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

WASHINGTON -- CooperVision, one of the biggest eye-care companies in the country, is recalling nearly 5 million contact lenses.

The initial recall was announced mid-August and involved more than 600,000 Avaira Toric contact lenses. Wearers reported severe pain, red eyes and hazy vision. Serious injuries, including torn corneas, were reported, as well.

The company said a silicone oil residue on the lenses is to blame for the issues customers have experienced.

While CooperVision first focused on alerting eye-care professionals who sell the product, it later expanded its efforts to reach consumers themselves under pressure from the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA issued a Class I recall notice, which is the highest level, indicating "a situation in which there is a reasonable probability that the use of or exposure to a violative product will cause serious adverse health consequences or death."

As of late last month, the FDA had received 40 reports of problems with the CooperVision contact lenses.

The recall has now expanded to include nearly 5 million contact lenses. Not only are the Avaira Toric lenses still on the list, but the Avaira Sphere lenses are now part of the recall, too. A CooperVision spokesman said the Toric and the Sphere are the company's only lenses that use silicone oil in the production process.

According to the company, 6.6 million lenses were produced, but only 4.9 million were shipped to customers.

The CooperVision Avaira Toric and Avaira Sphere contact lenses are sold at Costco, Wal-Mart and LensCrafters.

According to CooperVision, the symptoms vary from wearer to wearer, but generally start with hazy or blurred vision and progress to pain. If you experience any issues, the company says you should remove your lenses immediately and contact your eye-care provider.

To find out if your contact lenses are part of the recall, visit the CooperVision website and enter the lot number on the package.

Consumers with problems or questions related to the recalls and availability of Avaira Toric and Avaira Sphere lenses should contact the company at 1-855-526-6737.