Over-the-counter eye drops may have led to the death of one user and permanent vision loss of at least three others, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In a statement issued last month, the CDC warned of a bacterial infection, resistant to multiple antibiotics, that’s been linked to a brand of over-the-counter eye drops — EzriCare Artificial Tears.
The public health agency identified 56 isolates of antibiotic-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa from 50 case patients from 11 states between May 17, 2022, to Jan. 19, 2023. With the help of state and local health departments, the CDC collected specimens in both outpatient and inpatient healthcare settings.
Among the reported cases, one died due to a bloodstream infection, while three others developed permanent vision loss in one eye after suffering an ocular infection. Other cases were hospitalized due to respiratory infections or urinary tract infections.
The bacterial infections were not definitively traced to the brand of eye drops. It was also unclear if the patients had underlying eye conditions, such as cataracts or glaucoma, that made them more susceptible, according to NBC News.
However, the CDC recommended that users “immediately discontinue the use of EzriCare Artificial Tears until the epidemiological investigation and laboratory analyses are complete.” The warning was for bother clinicians and patients using the brand of eye drops.
EzriCare Artificial Tears is labeled preservative-free, so it does not contain anything that prevents microbial growth. It’s possible that the eye drops got contaminated during the manufacturing process, according to Fox News.
The states that recorded the bacterial infections included California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Texas, Utah and Washington.
Commonly found in water and soil, P. aeruginosa is known to cause infections in the blood, lungs, and other parts of the body after surgery in humans. This type of bacterium constantly finds ways to evade medication by developing antibiotic resistance, as per the CDC.
In 2017, the U.S. recorded approximately 32,600 infections and 2,700 deaths due to multidrug-resistant P. aeruginosa, added the agency.