Eye Drops Recalled Due to Bacterial Infection Outbreak
April 10, 2023
Several types of eye drops have been recalled due to a serious drug-resistant bacteria outbreak – one that has led to both permanent loss of vision and even a number of deaths. The recalled eye drops causing infection and blindness have resulted in three deaths already, and although the impacted products have been removed from stores and healthcare facilities, that number could still rise.
UPDATE: As of May 19, 2023, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the death toll linked to the recalled eye drops had risen to four people. The number of cases also rose to 81, up from 68 identified in March.
Rare Bacterial Infection Leads to Serious Complications
Several eye drop brands are linked to an outbreak of a bacteria known as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, according to CBS News. The deadly bacteria had never been reported in the United States before this outbreak, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The strain of bacteria is resistant to nearly all available treatments, NBC News reported, and as of April 7th, the CDC had identified 68 cases of the strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in 16 states.
According to a recent CDC update, “Three people have died and there have been 8 reports of vision loss and 4 reports of enucleation (surgical removal of eyeball).”
Additionally, the eye drops could potentially cause infections in other parts of the body, since the eye is connected to the nasal cavity through tear ducts and germs can transfer from the nasal cavity to the lungs.
Limited Treatment Available
The CDC’s investigation revealed that the infections linked to the eyedrops can be treated by just one known antibiotic, called cefiderocol.
The agency urged people who have signs or symptoms of an eye infection to seek medical care immediately.
Eye infection symptoms can include yellow, green, or clear discharge from the eye, eye pain or discomfort, redness of the eye or eyelid, increased sensitivity to light, blurry vision, and a feeling of something in your eye (foreign body sensation).
What Eye Drops Are Being Recalled?
According to the CDC, patients reported using more than 10 different brands of artificial tears and some patients used multiple brands. However, “EzriCare Artificial Tears, a preservative-free, over-the-counter product packaged in multidose bottles, was the brand most commonly reported.”
On February 2, Global Pharma Healthcare recalled all lots of its EzriCare and Delsam Pharma brands of “Artificial Tears Lubricant Eye Drops,” which the company said could be contaminated with bacteria.
On February 24, Global Pharma also recalled one batch of a product distributed by Delsam Pharma, “Artificial Eye Ointment,” due to possible microbial contamination.
On March 1, Apotex recalled six lots of its own brand of glaucoma drops, “Brimonidine Tartrate Ophthalmic Solution, 0.15%,” which is for patients with open-angle glaucoma or ocular hypertension.
In March, Pharmaceutical firm Pharmedica USA recalled two lots of “Purely Soothing, 15% MSM Drops,” over sterility concerns.
Nearly all of the cases are linked to contaminated eyedrops that had been imported from India, NBC reported.
What To Do if You Used Recalled Eye Drops
The CDC specifically noted that patients should stop using EzriCare or Delsam Pharma’s Artificial Tears “pending additional information and guidance from CDC and FDA.”
If you or a loved one used any of the recalled eye drops, stop using them immediately. Even if you haven’t experienced symptoms, if you’ve previously used the potentially unsafe products, you should contact your doctors and ask for a substitute to be safe.
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