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High Incidence of Micro-organisms found in Counterfeit & Unapproved Contact Lenses

A recent study published in the journal of Forensic Sciences (2017) examined over 300 decorative, non corrective contact lenses obtained without a prescription. What they found was shocking:

  • 60% of the counterfeit lenses tested positive for microbial contamination
  • 27% of the unapproved lenses tested positive for microbial contamination
  • 3% of authentic contact lenses were positive for microbial contamination
  • 48% of the non prescribed brands tested had at least one nonsterile sample
  • of the bacterial isolated both Bacillus cereus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa pose considerable health risk for ocular tissues and a common cause of microbial keratitis & corneal uclers

FDA requires prescriptions for all contact lens products and yet each year thousands of consumers obtain contact lenses through channels that evade regulatory authority. These contact lenses (often worn for cosmesis) have been shown to have up to 20 times higher levels of microbial contamination than those obtained through normal channels. In addition consumers who obtain these often do not have proper disinfection, proper monitoring and proper instruction on usage.

The bottom line is patients that purchase contact lenses that are counterfeit and unapproved are putting themselves at risk of ocular infections including microbial keratitis, conjunctivitis and possible blindness.

The organisms isolated were as follows: Pseudomonas, Strenotrophomonas, Bacillus Altitudinis, Bacillus thuringiensis, Enterobacter species, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Pseudomona monteilii, Micrococcus luteus, Herbaspirillum, Rhodococcus baikonurensis, Pseudomonas fluorescens A, Delftia acidovorans, Pseudomonas veronii, Achromobacter denitrificans, Elizabethkingia species, Bacillus fusiformis, Bacillus cereus, Bacillus simplex, Ochrobactrum anthropi, Rhizobium species, Brevendimonas, Spingopyxis terra, Aquabacterium Species.

Source: Land et al, J Forensic Sci, 2017 doi: 10.1111/1556-4029.13553 available online at: