Updated Mar 23, 2023 - Economy

Infections from eye drops linked to 3 deaths, CDC says

Eye drop falling into an eye

Eye drops have been linked to Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections. Photo: White Fox/AGF/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Federal health officials are continuing to investigate a multi-state outbreak of drug-resistant infections linked to eye drops.

Driving the news: At least 3 people have died and 68 people from 16 states were diagnosed with a rare strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa in connection with the outbreak, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • There have been eight reports of vision loss, the CDC said in its update this week citing data as of March 14.
  • There have been four cases involving surgical removal of an eyeball, the CDC said.
  • The 16 states with reported cases are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.

Eye drop recalls 2023

There have been eye drop recalls linked to the outbreak including Global Pharma Healthcare's voluntary recall of lots of its Artificial Tears Lubricant Eye Drops, distributed by EzriCare, LLC- and Delsam Pharma for potential microbial contamination. It also recalled a lot of artificial eye ointment.

  • EzriCare Artificial Tears, an over-the-counter product, was also the “only common artificial tears product" identified across four healthcare facility clusters, which account for 37 of the 68 cases, the CDC said.
  • Since February, the FDA has been warning consumers and health care practitioners not to purchase and to immediately stop using EzriCare Artificial Tears or Delsam Pharma’s Artificial Tears due to potential bacterial contamination. The recalled ointment has not been linked to infections but shouldn't be used, the FDA notes.

Meanwhile, other recent eye drop recalls have not been linked to the outbreak.

Yes, but: Most patients reported using artificial tears. Patients “reported over 10 different brands of artificial tears and some patients used multiple brands.”

Eye infection symptoms

The CDC said patients who have used “EzriCare or Delsam Pharma’s artificial tears and who have signs or symptoms of an eye infection should seek medical care immediately.” Symptoms, the CDC noted, include:

  • Yellow, green, or clear discharge from the eye
  • Eye pain or discomfort
  • Redness of the eye or eyelid
  • A feeling of something in your eye (foreign body sensation)
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Blurry vision

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