CDC Warns Against EzriCare Eye Drops Linked to 50 Infections in 11 States
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is warning people to stop using EzriCare Artificial Tears after the over-the-counter eye drops were linked to 50 reported infections, as well as one associated death. Though a recall hasn’t been initiated yet, per EzriCare, both doctors and their patients should immediately stop using the product until the CDC’s investigation is complete, according to a statement from the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO).
EzcriCare said in a statement dated February 1: “To the greatest extent possible, we have been contacting customers to advise them against continued use of the product. We also immediately reached out to both CDC and FDA and indicated our willingness to cooperate with any requests they may have of us.”
Infections associated with the eye drops have been reported in at least 11 states, including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Texas, Utah, and Washington. So far, experts know that the reported issues primarily occurred from May 2022 to January 2023 and were caused by the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa, per the statement. In addition to eye infections, the bacteria caused respiratory or urinary tract infections; the person who died was diagnosed with a bloodstream infection. The infections have also caused complications, like permanent vision loss and hospitalization.
Because Pseudomonas aeruginosa are resistant to some forms of antibiotics and are highly adaptable, infections caused by the bacteria are “extremely challenging…to treat in modern-day medicine,” per the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The bacteria can be found in the environment (such as in water or soil), but it also spreads in health care settings via contaminated hands, equipment, or surfaces, per the CDC. (The statement didn’t specify how the affected bottles of EzriCare Artificial Tears were contaminated.) Infections caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa in hospitals and other medical facilities are fairly common: Among hospitalized people, there were about 32,600 cases in 2017 alone, per the CDC’s most recently available data. The risk is highest for people with wounds from surgery or burns, people who rely on medical devices such as catheters, and people who use ventilators.
During the ongoing investigation, testing revealed the presence of Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria in opened bottles of EzriCare Artificial Tears, which is a preservative-free product. Testing of unopened bottles is currently ongoing.
This isn’t the first time bacterial growth has been linked to preservative-free eye drops: A 2022 study published in the journal Pathogens suggests contamination can occur when a person’s fingertips, eyelids, or other body parts touch the vial while administering the drops. And an older study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology that looked at the prevalence of bacteria in such products found “significant growth” in eight bottles collected for the research.
Even though the product hasn’t been formally recalled yet, it’s in your best interest to stop using it while the CDC investigates the infections linked to EzriCare Artificial Tears. And, as with any product under investigation, if you’ve used the eye drops in the past and want to make sure you aren’t experiencing any worrisome symptoms, it can’t hurt to check in with a doctor.
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