Discontented with Discontinued Products

You can’t tell it by my pictures, because I’m neurotic about my vision, but I wear glasses. Well, technically, anyway. I have 20/800 vision. To put that scale in perspective, if you have 20/20 vision (normal), then the text you can read easily on a billboard from a quarter mile away, without my glasses or contacts, I would have to be close enough to touch it to be able to read it.

For the record: That’s pretty bad.

Even with the coolest new lens styles, my glasses weigh a ton, as you can probably imagine. So I wear contacts. Some of my closest friends have never seen me with glasses on, so I doubt they ever even knew I wore contacts.

And I take my eyes seriously. Any pain is unacceptable. I have very sensitive eyes so I can sense the slightest change in anything.

A few years ago my contact lens manufacturer (Bausch and Lomb) discontinued “my” preferred contact lens style without any notice, sending me on a quest to find an alternative when I ran out. It took two weeks of trying out various brands and styles with the optometrist each day (when he had my prescription in stock), but I finally settled on SofLens 59. They were billed by Bausch and Lomb as a “direct” replacement for the Acuview lenses I had worn for a decade. They were not the same, but they were the most comfortable alternative I had found, and they gradually grew on me. To the point where now I don’t feel them at all anymore. I know they’re there, but there is no discomfort.

Then it happened. Again. Bausch and Lomb discontinued the SofLens 59s. I should have seen it coming. The company just can’t keep anything good on the shelves.

This time I spent three months looking for a replacement contact. I tried at least 30 variations (yes, seriously). Most of them didn’t make it a full minute in my eyes. Others lasted as long as a couple days. Since manufacturers have started imprinting their logos and/or the prescriptions on the lenses, many of them are just outrageously uncomfortable. There’s nothing quite so bad as having a huge “BL” rubbing against your cornea. Well, except perhaps the marginal size differences of the different brands of contacts. 1/64th of an inch difference might sound like it’s immeasurable – but it feels like a knife gouging out parts of my eye – and blinking with contacts that are too small is like filleting my eyeball.

So I gave up. I’ll try again in a few years. Meanwhile, I found a place online to order enough SofLens 59s to last me for 4 years. I’m using them faster than usual (switching about every ten days), so it’ll be closer to three years of contacts. Some of these contacts expire in late 2009, so I can’t rely on them beyond that.

That was a horrible experience, but it’s something I expected. After all, Bausch and Lomb has a history of doing that to me. Then, tonight, I read that my preferred contact lens solution, AMO Complete MoisturePlus, is being completely recalled. The press release is written in such a way as to suggest it will also be discontinued. This is the absolute best contact lens solution out there. It’s like rinsing your contacts in the solution the contacts are shipped in. Very clean, with that teary-solution-feel to it that makes it feel like you’re putting in a fresh pair of contacts every morning. I love that.

I’ve used MoisturePlus since the day it was put on the shelves, thanks to my optometrist who gave it rave reviews. I use the Complete Blink-N-Clean drops, too – you’ll find a small bottle of it in my pocket whenever I leave the house. Now I guess I have to spend the next couple weeks trying out different lens solutions. I have no hope of finding something as nice as Complete MoisturePlus – I’ve tried many others before I found MoisturePlus, and they all, well, sucked. I may as well be using saltwater. Here’s hoping I find something I like, anyway.

Sigh. Does anyone have any recommendations on what to try next?

  • Shawn K. Hall says:

    Thanks, Laureen.I’ve considered surgery, my optometrist in the military even made a big deal out of his desire to get me free treatment because my eyes were so bad. What they didn’t just come out and tell me though, is that there’s a good chance I will still need glasses to be able to function on a daily basis. That’s not acceptable to me. I can’t imagine spending upwards of a thousand dollars to ‘find out’ if my eyes can be fixed, and then spend another $500 for new glasses and contacts. They also said that there was ‘a chance’ that after the surgery I may not be able to wear contacts anymore – ever. That’s simply unacceptable. There is not anything close to the same range of vision in glasses. I’d rather suffer through my daily rituals than give up my ability to have peripheral vision.I want my vision to be ‘fixed’ – not just ‘better’, or I’ll pass.I’ve also looked into the Bates Method. Never heard of the Meir Schneider Method, but from my Googling, it looks similar to the Bates Method. It leaves at least part of the same problem, though. When my eyes get better, unless it’s near immediate (very unlikely), I’ll have to go through quite a few changes of glasses and/or contacts. I imagine it would cost upwards of a couple grand. While we’re not destitute anymore, even a $1,000, after spending several hundred on my contacts for 4 years’ worth of contacts, is not a minor consideration.Sigh. We call this ‘RAnts’ for a reason. 😉

  • Laureen says:

    I am right there in the same boat with you, w.r.t. lens comfort, solution choice, and total disgust with the whole system.This has driven me to look for alternatives. I’m doing a lot of the eye exercises that Meir Schneider recommends; if he can come back from blind to getting a driver’s license, surely there’s something there for me. Progress is slow, but measurable. You might think about it, if for no other reason than that it’s the only kind of protest you can really make that they seem to care about; voting with your (lack) of dollars.