Last updated 6/24/2021
Where did Lobob go?
Lobob products have been out of production since July 2019. This is a huge problem for the scleral lens community, as Lobob ESC has long been the most-recommended 'rub' cleaning solution for scleral lenses that are NOT coated with HydraPeg.
What is Lobob?
Lobob is a company in California that used to sell several products of interest in the scleral lens community:
- Lobob ESC, a/k/a Optimum by Lobob Extra Strength Cleaner. Some of us know it as Optimum, some of us know it as Lobob, some of us know it as ESC. By any of these names, it's still the best darned "rub" cleaning solution for scleral lenses. (Except, of course Hydra PEG coated lenses, because it will strip the coating.)
- Sof/Pro2, a Miraflow generic, which is another 'red cap' cleaner that has commonly been used for sclerals (albeit off label).
- Sundry other RGP products such as Lobob CDS, wetting drops and a hard lens cleaner.
Why is it gone? Is it coming back?
In July 2019, the contract manufacturer (Altaire Pharmaceuticals) that was making Lobob had to stop production and issue extensive recalls of more than a hundred eye care products including many generic dry eye drops and ointments. Lobob solutions were not recalled, but manufacturing of all products ceased. There has been no indication that they ever resumed.
In March 2020, the FDA issued a long, scathing warning letter to Altaire detailing their violations, ranging from data falsification to use of duct tape on the filling line. Whatever it all means, it sure did not look like a promising path to reinstatement.
Fast-forward to June 2021. The Lobob company has had two years to either find a different contract manufacturer or find a buyer able to do so, and there's no indication that they have done either. At this point I think it's fair to say it's unlikely to become available again anytime soon. If they surprise us, great!
What can I use instead of Lobob ESC?
First, please talk to your eye doctor for their specific recommendations. You can also show this information to your doctor and ask for advice.
Another alcohol-based "red-cap" cleaner?
The only red-cap cleansers popular for scleral lenses are the various Miraflow generics. These are good, but the real problem is that they just haven't been available. Here are the options that we know of. If you know of more, tell us.
Bear in mind that anything that claims to be Miraflow or be similar to Miraflow - they're basically all generics for the original Miraflow (CibaVision) which was discontinued a great many years ago.
- "Miraflow" (miraflow.com)
- Sereine ESC (on this site).
...Or a multi-purpose solution?
Any multi-purpose solution labeled for use with RGP lenses can be used on scleral lenses - with the exception that if your lens is Hydra-PEG coated, you can only use compatible solutions (Unique pH, Tangible Clean or Boston Simplus). Multi-purpose solutions aren't as effective at removing stubborn deposits as the alcohol-based cleaners, but they're much better than nothing!
By the way, I just noticed all the comments on here are pre-pandemic, so everyone has probably already moved on to Lobob alternatives by now. But, if you check the Lobob website going back to 2018, they’ve been saying their contract manufacturer was having temporary problems, causing shortages of their products. It’s not coming back. If they aren’t completely out of business by now (ironically with a website stating that they are not going out of business), then I’m pretty sure the “company” is simply the owner working out of his house, trying to decide what to do next.
As an insider, I know for fact that Lobob only private labels products made by Altaire. They call themselves “Lobob Labs”, but have no actual labs, just a warehouse and offices with just a handful of employees. They were 100% dependent on Altaire. Altaire stopped manufacturing all their pharmaceutical products including Lobob’s because of horrendous findings by the FDA regarding the shoddiness of the Altaire manufacturing lines (https://www.fiercepharma.com/manufacturing/fda-blasts-altaire-for-tin-and-foil-contraptions-data-flaws-at-new-york-plant). The last I saw (yes, inside their offices), they had maybe 2 full time employees, and that was before their “manufacturing” source, Altaire, collapsed and the pandemic hit. Any “rep” you talk to at Lobob is the owner — the only other guy there is the shipping and receiving guy.
Very distressed that Optimum is gone. Nothing else really works for me. I am taking my contacts out every two hours to re-clean. Ugh. Is there no chance that they might return?
I’ve been using Lobob since the 70s; I’m naturally distraught about this.
Longtime gas permeable wearer / Lobob user here. I’ve switched to an overnight soak with Clear Care Plus and Target’s store brand RGP conditioning solution to wet before insertion. Target Up & Up brand RGP cleaner for the occasional cleanup. “Blink-n-clean” lens drops if things get scratchy mid-day. This is actually a lot more comfortable than my oldLobob regimen. The Target Up & Up product is a million times better than Boston.