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The CDC issues warning after deaths linked to popular eyedrops

Picture of EzriCare Artificial Tears bottles and box against a blue background
A drug-resistant bacteria has been found in EzriCare eye drops.
Courtesy of EzriCare

After potential contamination with a drug-resistant bacteria in eye drops led to three deaths, multiple reports of vision loss and four reports of enucleation (the surgical removal of eyeballs), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending patients and health care professionals stop using EzriCare or Delsam Pharma’s Artificial Tears.

The CDC issued an update earlier this week regarding its investigation into a multistate outbreak of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a bacterial strain resistant to many antibiotics. The strain has never been reported in the United States prior to this outbreak, which has been associated with multiple types of infections, including eye infections. 

EzriCare eye drops had been recalled back in February after being linked to 55 bacterial cases in 12 states. Thirty-five patients were connected to four healthcare facility clusters, according to the CDC.

Where the outbreak has been reported

Thus far, the investigation has identified artificial tears as a common exposure among 68 patients in the following 16 states:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • North Carolina
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Nevada
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

What patients should do if they develop an infection

While patients reported more than 10 different brands of artificial tears, EzriCare Artificial Tears was the most commonly reported brand. Patients and clinicians are encouraged to report adverse effects to the Food and Drug Administration and patients are urged to follow up with their healthcare providers about alternative treatment options.

Patients who have used either EzraCare or Delsam Pharma’s Artificial Tears are advised to seek medical care immediately if they have signs or symptoms of an eye infection, which may include:

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

At this time, the CDC is not recommending testing of patients who’ve used the product, but are not experiencing any signs or symptoms of infection.

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