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Recalled lenses sold in Costco stores in Canada, Walmart, Costco and LensCrafters stores in USA, 1-800-CONTACTS (on-line) and through eye care practitioners in Australia.

FDA, Health Canada silent on this recall.

On August 19, 2011, The Cooper Companies, Inc. announced a recall by its subsidiary, CooperVision, of “limited lots” of Avaira® Toric contact lenses. The recall was described as being due to “…the unintended presence of a residue on certain lenses.” According to the news release, which was intended to advise investors of the recall, the residue was discovered as a result of “… a small number of complaints of temporary hazy vision.”

CooperVision has posted the following recall notice on its web site.

“Avaira® Toric Limited Lot Voluntary Recall

We at CooperVision take great pride in the quality of our products.We initiated a voluntary recall after investigating a small number ofunexpected wearer reports of hazy vision and discomfort. The wearer symptoms were temporary in many cases.

This recall involves only a slight percentage of Avaira Toric lenses. To determine if the Avaira Toric lenses you wear are included in this recall, enter the Lot Number found on your product package or blister (as shown in the illustration) into the search box below.

We apologize for any inconvenience this situation may cause you. For more information read our Questions & Answers document. You can also call 1-855-5-COOPER or 1-855-526-6737 if you have any other questions. (Consumer Care hours of operation are 9:00AM-5:00PM EST Mon-Fri).”

In contrast, eFoodAlert readers tell a scarier story. Here are three comments, which were posted in response to my initial recall story.

  • From Helen: “My son went to ER due to severe eye pain. His 1st Avaira Toric caused blur vision and rainbow coloring to his vision, but it disappeared couple days later. Then his 2nd pair had the same effect. so he took them off. Then his eye pain started. It was so intense we took him to ER.”
  • From Krystal, in Texas: “We are located in Texas in the US and my son was in severe eye pain he had to miss the 2nd day of school. This was a horrifying experience for my family. The pain inflicted on my son was unbearable to watch. After taking him to his doctor then to an ophthalmologist purchasing 3 different prescriptions the bills staked up. His cornea was severely scratched and swollen. A week later he is doing better. We are just praying no long term damage was caused.”
  • From Dan in Virginia: “My daughter also had to go to the ER due to severe eye pain after using these contacts. Diagnosed with severe tear to the cornea. Doing better now, scheduled to follow up with an opthamologist today. Contacts were purchased at the walmart in Hampton, VA.”

I’m neither an optometrist nor an ophthalmologist, but these reports sound a lot worse than just “temporary hazy vision.”

Here is what we know about the distribution of these recalled contact lenses.

  • Recalled Avaira Toric lenses were distributed in the USA, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, Germany, Italy and Spain (according to the Hong Kong Department of Health).
  • Avaira Toric contact lenses were sold in Walmart (per Dan in Virginia, above).
  • BioComfort XO Toric lenses also were recalled. These lenses were distributed directly to members of the Hong Kong Association of Private Practice Optometrists.
  • Encore Toric contact lenses, which were sold in Costco Canada warehouse stores (Costco Item #277220) between April 18 and August 23, 2011, also have been recalled.
  • Contacts (Avaira?) were sold in Costco in Seattle, WA (per Ineke van W in Washington, below (Update #1).

I call on all eFoodAlert readers to help publicize this recall. The vision you save may belong to a friend or family member. Here is what you can do:

  1. If you or a family member wears Toric contact lenses, go to the CooperVision recall web page and enter the lot number of your package to determine whether your lenses have been recalled. If you no longer have the package, and you have experienced any discomfort whatsoever, stop wearing the contact lenses. Contact your optometrist or ophthalmologist for advice.
  2. Email this story to any friends or family members who wear contact lenses – especially if you know that they use Toric lenses.
  3. If you, a friend, or a family member has experienced a problem with these lenses, please post your story as a comment, below. Please state where you live (city, state/province, country), and where you purchased the Toric lenses. I’ll add this information to the recall distribution list.

Media coverage of this recall has been sparse – in keeping with the tone of Cooper’s original recall notice. Together, we can do what FDA, Health Canada, and CooperVision have collectively failed to do – GET THE WORD OUT!

Update #1 – From Ineke van W in Washington: I purchased contacts at Costco in Seattle WA and also ended up in the ER with the most excruciating eye pain. ER doc noted that the corneal abrasion was in the shape of the contact lens.

Update #2 – August 30, 2011: Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration posts recall notice for CooperVision Avaira® Toric contact lenses.

Update #3 – From Annette in Texas: I purchased the Avaira Toric lenses in Spring, TX through 1800CONTACTS. When I took them out on the first day of wearing them (Tuesday, 8/30/11) it felt like I scratched my eye. When I woke up the next morning I couldn’t open my eyes. The pain was so severe. I went to my eye doctor and was told that both my cornea’s were torn. She gave me a prescription for an antibiotic but I still can’t see well enough to drive. I have never felt pain like this before.

Update #4 – From Melissa in Georgia: REGARDING AVAIRA TORIC CONTACT LENSES:
I’ve suffered a severe corneal abrasion due to this lens.  My lot number is involved in the recall.  Over the weekend I noticed vision in my right eye was filmy so I removed the contact.  About an hour later I was in severe pain in that eye–felt like a bee stiniging my eye.  Doctor at the ER said I had a corneal abrasion in the shape of a contact over 15% of my cornea. I called my eye care provider and they said they had no idea of the recall.  It’s frustrating that no one from either company failed to notify me that these lenses were defective. I live in Atlanta, Georgia and purchased these lenses at a Lencrafters.

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