Health Canada warns consumers not to use GenTeal Artificial Tears due to potential health risk

OTTAWA – Health Canada is warning consumers not to use Lot 51436 of the product Genteal Artificial Tears 25 ml due to possible contamination with bacteria. A recall of the affected lot has been initiated by the distributor, Novartis.

Use of eye drops contaminated with bacteria may cause serious eye infection. People who are immune suppressed, such as those with HIV/AIDS, or who are undergoing chemotherapy or taking drugs which cause immune suppression may be at a higher risk for infection.

The product, with an expiry date of 2008-08, is fabricated by CIBA Vision Canada Inc., Sterile Manufacturing.

Lot numbers can usually be found on the top of the box or front panel of the bottle. The Drug Identification Number (DIN) for this product is 02231289. The DIN can be found on the front panel of the product label and outer packaging.

This product is used to relieve eye irritation or dryness and is sold without a prescription as an over-the-counter drug. It is widely available and is distributed across Canada. According to the company, the product was tested prior to release for sale and met all specifications, including sterility. However, the company advised Health Canada that it is recalling the product as a precautionary measure based on a recent review of the production facility controls.

Health Canada is advising consumers who use Genteal Artificial Tears to check the lot number on the bottle. If it is Lot 51436, with an expiry date of 2008-08, they should immediately stop using the product and return it where it was purchased. People using the affected lot who experience symptoms of eye infection such as redness, swelling, discharge, pain, itchiness, increased sensitivity to light and change in vision should seek medical attention.

Health Canada will update this advisory as soon as additional information is available. Health Canada advisories are posted at the following web address:

Changes to OHIP coverage for eye care services

Effective November 1, 2004

Routine eye exams, provided by either an optometrist or physician, for patients aged 20 to 64 are no longer covered by OHIP. These individuals will now pay for this service or have the cost of exams covered by private insurance.

Eye Care Services Covered by OHIP

  • Changes will not affect seniors or those under age 20. People 65 and older and under 20 will continue to have OHIP coverage for a routine eye exam once every 12 months.
  • Changes will not affect ophthalmology services for patients of any age with medical conditions or diseases affecting the eyes.
  • All persons receiving assistance under the Ontario Disability Support Program, Ontario Works or the Family Benefits Program will continue to receive coverage for routine eye exams once every two years.

Increased Coverage for People with Medical Conditions

OHIP is increasing coverage for patients aged 20 to 64 years with medical conditions affecting the eye.

  • Patients can receive a regular eye exam once every 12 months. Prior to November 1, 2004, eye exams were covered once every two years.
  • Patients with any of the following conditions can go directly to their optometrist or physician to receive an OHIP-insured eye exam:
    • Diabetes mellitus
    • Glaucoma
    • Cataract
    • Retinal disease
    • Amblyopia
    • Visual field defects
    • Corneal disease
    • Strabismus
  • Patients aged 20 to 64 who have conditions not listed above may also be covered for a regular eye exam. They should discuss this with their primary healthcare provider.

Visors for Everyone

Last nights Maple Leafs game, is a reminder that all hockey players, not just minor leaguers, should be required to wear eye protection (visors, sheilds, masks or cages). Darcy Tucker underwent retinal surgery today to repair damage. This is another eye injury this season, hockey players at all levels (minor, junior, recreational and professional) need to wear eye protection.

Your vision, what could be more important?

Dr. Heeney strongly supports Canadian Association of Optometrists in their efforts to make eye protection manadatory for hockey players.

For more information about eye protection solutions for all sports including hockey, football, basketball, skiing, racquet sports, please contact Dr. Heeney to make an appointment to find out what is available for you to protect your eyes and your vision.

Related Links

Splurge: Julie Nadalin from Iodine

Julie Nadalin, owner of the fabulous Iodine and Arsenic (867 Queen West, 416-681-0557) was featured in the November 27, 2003 issue of Now Toronto. Julia was featured wearing a great pair of shades from our office.

Iodine and Arsenic has herbal remedies and ointments, bath and shower gels in orange, and rosemary, lavender and lemongrass, facial cleansers and serums, aromatherapy and perfumes, plus leather bags and wallets. When you are down on Queen West, please stop in and say "hello" to Julie.

For fabulous sunglasses of your own, stop by 25 Brant Street and ask Tanya about what you should wear to the Film Festival.

Substance and Style: New Sunglasses

Motorola and Frog Design have designed one of the Coolest Inventions of 2003 with their Offspring Wearable prototypes. The sunglasses are expected to be available in 2006 and contain a digital camera, and a display for accessing your email or the Web. They also have an ear-piece that pops out of the side of the glasses, a wrist watch and a PDA.

Related Links and Information

Sunglasses that record everything

Gizmodo links to a BBC story about researcher at HP who have prototyped a pair of sunglasses with a digital camera embedded into them. The camera constantly takes pictures of everything the wearer sees through out the day, though it does have an off-switch for those private moments. The HP sunglasses appear to be an evolution of the technology designed and worn by Steve Mann at MIT and now at the University of Toronto. The HP sunglasses capture additional meta-data to help classify and organize the images.