Stop using eye drops after one death, dozens of infections

  • Stop using eye drops that may be linked to drug-resistant infections, according to the CDC.
  • The recommendation is a precautionary measure after fifty patients tested positive for a drug-resistant bug.
  • Most patients used EzriCare Artificial Tears, but it is unclear whether the product caused the outbreak.

People should “immediately” stop using eye drops that may be linked to drug-resistant infections, according to the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention.

The recommendation is a precautionary measure after “permanent loss of vision” due to an eye infection was reported and one person died from a bloodstream infection, the CDC said. The patients tested positive for a multidrug-resistant bacterium.

As of Jan. 20, 50 people in 11 states (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Texas, Utah and Washington) had tested positive for the bacteria, called Pseudomonas aeruginosa, according to the CDC.

The “majority” of patients with positive samples told the CDC that they had used eye drops prior to testing, and the most commonly cited brand was EzriCare Artificial Tears. The CDC said samples were taken from patients in hospitals and outpatient clinics between May 2022 and December 2022.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which can cause infections in the blood, lungs or wounds, is becoming increasingly difficult to treat as it develops antibiotic defense mechanisms, known as antibiotic resistance. The bacteria usually spreads to people in hospitals or other healthcare settings when they are exposed to contaminated water or soil, where it normally lives, according to the CDC.

The strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa that was found is resistant to carbapenems, which are powerful antibiotics that kill bacteria that cause diseases such as pneumonia, urinary tract infections and serious skin infections. It is also resistant to two other antibiotics called ceftazidime, which doctors use for urinary tract infections, meningitis, and bloodstream infections, and cefepime, which can also be used for urinary tract infections.

The CDC is investigating whether eye drops caused the outbreak

Lab tests on some opened bottles of EzriCare eye drops discovered another type of Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

That bacteria is undergoing further testing to confirm whether it matches the outbreak strain, the CDC said.

“Testing of unopened bottles of EzriCare Artificial Tears is ongoing,” it said.

Stop using EzriCare Artificial Tears as a precaution

In the meantime, the CDC said it “recommends that clinicians and patients immediately discontinue use of EzriCare Artificial Tears until epidemiological research and laboratory analyzes are complete.”

EzriCare said in a statement on Jan. 24 that the CDC had not asked the company to recall any products and that it had not received “consumer complaints or adverse event reports related to the study.”

“EzriCare strongly advises that during this evolving situation you STOP using any portions of EzriCare Artificial Tears Lubricant Eye Drops until we can uncover more details about potential safety concerns,” it said.

Insider has reached out to EzriCare for comment.

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