Warning to all who use Opti-Free REPLENISH lens solution

flyingflowerMarch 7, 2009

I want to put out a warning call to all who wear contact lenses AND have sensitive skin. I had a bad allergic reaction to Alcon's Opti-Free REPLENISH solution. It took a couple months before I figured out what was causing this horrible rash/eczema around my eyes.

At first I tried to treat it myself with OTC hydrocortisone and antihistamines. No success there so I went to a doctor who wrote up a script for other antihistamines. A Dermatologist was called in to look at my eyes. She gave me an Rx for Desonide. By now the swelling, redness, and itching was out of control and it was spreading...beyond my eyes, upwards into my forehead and down to my cheekbones. When that medicine failed I went to an Allergist and he gave me yet another ointment which didn't work. He told me the only thing left was Prednisone. It wasn't until I removed my lenses one day that I noticed the swelling was subsiding. So I went to the medicine cabinet and looked at the bottle of lens solution. On the back there it was as one of the ingredients: Preservative. Also in tiny print were the words, "if you are allergic to any of these ingredients do not use this product".

The problem is how to know you are allergic to this solution if it doesn't show up right away or affect the eyes as you might expect. I had no symptoms of burning or stinging eyes. I'm prone to eczema so I had no reason to suspect anything other than this being another flair-up of eczema which doesn't happen very often (maybe once a year) but it does happen, and always minor (usually remedied within a couple days with some hydrocortisone).

None of the doctors I saw associated my skin problems with a lens cleaner either. That's what makes this product so dangerous, you can suffer for a long time before the connection is made that the solution you clean your lens with is affecting the skin on your face.

If you are experiencing itchy skin in the region of your eyes and you use this product I strongly recommend you stop immediately and switch to a different lens solution.

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bumping down

    Bookmark   April 18, 2009 at 11:45PM
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I switched to CLEAR CARE because it is preservative free and have had no reaction to it so far. Very happy about that because most lens solutions do contain preservatives.

Unfortunately, the problem reoccured about a week after I first posted my message. I had made an assumption that saline solution is just purified salted water and you can use whichever brand you like. You'd think by now I'd have enough brains to read the ingredients on anything I put in my eyes but I didn't. Lo and Behold the generic (Target) brand of Saline caused another allergic reaction and I was back on the hydrocortisone. In bold letters at the top of the bottle (on the back) it states "No Sorbic Acid and no Thimerosal". Not till you read the contents does it say "preserved with ...". So they're putting preservatives in Saline too!

The only saline I found that does not contain preservatives is Unisol 4 by Alcon. Expensive, hard to find, and they only seen to come in 4 oz bottles (maybe because there is no preservative in them).

My husband wears contacts too and he's never had a problem with products w/ preservatives. However, after seeing what it did to me he doesn't want them in his eyes anymore either. If you are like me (prone to allergies, excema, sensitive skin, etc) be very careful what you buy to clean your lenses. Hard to believe that such a small amount of liquid left on your lenses could do so much damage but it can. The chemicals will be absorbed into the skin around your eyes.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2009 at 5:17PM
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Please help, i used the same product and my eyes started to swell and turn red and i had a bad allergetic reation so bad almost couldnt get my contacts out so i stopped using the product and havent wore my contacts for over a month now and still i have an allergy reaction about every 4-5 days now.Still may it be something else?

    Bookmark   April 28, 2011 at 12:10AM
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I found out after multiple trips to the dermatologist that I am highly allergic to thimerasol. Swelling, itching, and bumps started in my eyes and spread to the rest of my face. It came back again 6 months later. It was worse than before. My eyes were swollen shut and it took at least a week before things started getting back to normal. I did a patch test and sure enough I was allergic to the preservative in the opti-free solution. What is weird is that I've used this solution and different formulas of it for years and never had a problem it. The reaction seemed to occur when I struggled to put my contacts in and had to use lots of solution. I never washed it off my face. Clear care is what I use and I am very careful with any make-up or other topicals that I purchase. Still, it would be nice to have a list of products or companies that don't use thimerasol.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2011 at 10:35PM
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