CDC Issues Warning For Eyedrops Brand Possibly Linked To Fatal Drug-Resistant Infections


Eye drops have plenty of uses. And each of us has our own trusted brands. One that is currently in the market is EzriCare Artificial Tears. Recently CDC issued a warning against this product. As of January 20th CDC reports that one person has died and at least three others are left with permanent vision loss. This is due to the bacterial infection that is possibly linked to this over-the-counter eyedrop.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that the majority of those affected were using preservative-free EzriCare Artificial Tears.

On January 20, 2023, the CDC issued a statement saying that the agency is investigating a cluster of 56 isolates from 50 patients in 11 states that could link these infections to the use of EzriCare Artificial Tears.

Multiple specimen types, including corneal clinical cultures, have gained isolating results. Infections of the eye can cause serious complications, including blindness and the need for hospitalization.

This is why the use of EzriCare Artificial Tears should be suspended until the results of an ongoing epidemiological study and laboratory investigations are done and would prove that the eyedrops have nothing to do with these health scares.

cdc tears

And even though more tests need to be done to connect these infections to the eyedrops, according to CDC “patients immediately discontinue the use of EzriCare Artificial Tears until the epidemiological investigation and laboratory analyses are complete.”

The majority of the patients affected claimed that they’d used EzriCare Artificial Tears before they started to get ill.

The bacteria is called Pseudomonas aeruginosa. This is a form of bacteria that is resistant to most antibiotics. The CDC reports that their team has found at least 50 cases in 11 different states – California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Texas, Uta, and Washington.

Eleven patients reportedly contracted eye infections, with at least three becoming completely blind. Others suffered from bacterial or viral infections of the respiratory or urinary systems. And sadly for one person, the bacteria got into the patient’s bloodstream, and it was fatal. It caused death.

What CDC is looking into is whether or not the patients already had eye problems like glaucoma or cataracts that put them at risk after using the eye drops. Still, the experience must have been difficult and painful since eye infections can cause pain among others. It can also cause redness, discharge, blurred vision, sensitivity to light, and the feeling that something is stuck in the eye.

Bacteria, specifically the Pseudomonas aeruginosa can be found almost anywhere, including in water, soil, and even in your hands. Both healthy and unhealthy inviduals can carry this bacteria. And people with compromised immune systems are more likely to get an infection from this bacteria while hospitalized.

An estimated 2,700 people lost their lives and over 32,000 were infected in hospitals across the United States in 2017.

What’s scary is that this type of bacteria is often resistant to standard antibiotics. Carbapenem resistance is not the only antibiotic resistance seen in this cluster. Ceftazidime and cefepime resistance have also been shown. This makes it more difficult to treat the infection.

Dr. Jill Weatherhead, an assistant professor of tropical medicine and infectious diseases at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston said, “That’s what’s so concerning. Our standard treatments are no longer available to treat this infection.”

This is supported by John A. Moran Eye Center ophthalmologist and cornea specialist Amy Lin, MD., saying, “The public should stop using EzriCare preservative-free multi-dose artificial tears immediately. It’s also essential that anyone who is experiencing a sudden onset of severe red eye, severe pain, or vision decline is seen by an ophthalmologist as soon as possible.”

So what exactly is EzriCare Artificial Tears?

The EzriCare Artificial Tears solution contains 1% Carboxymethylcellulose Sodium and claims to be preservative-free. It is contained in a dropper to be used as eye drops. This product is intended to be used to lubricate the eye, reducing the symptoms of dryness and irritation.

The mode of application of this product can be the carrier of harmful pathogens since it is directly dropping the liquid to the eyes that enters the body. For this reason, it is strongly advised that the container’s spout should not come into contact with any surface. The cap must be replaced after each use, and the container should be kept tightly closed at all times.

There has been a cluster of infections caused by VIM-GES-CRPA that have been linked to the use of this eye drop product, highlighting the importance of maintaining the product’s sterility.

The question now is how come it is being questioned to have caused the infections when there is nothing in the product that could inhibit the growth of microorganisms. The EzriCare Artificial Tears claim to contain no preservatives this is why it is being investigated at the moment. Something went wrong along the way, whether in production, storage, etc.

What experts are looking into is whether it is possible that the product was tainted or contaminated either during the production process or while it was packaged and shipped. The person carrying the germs on their skin might have gained access to the products and started the contamination process.

The bacteria discovered in the bottles of the eyedrops is currently being tested by the CDC to determine if it is the same strain as that which has been reported in patients.

In response to the claims, according to a statement released by EzriCare on January 24, the company has not received any reports in connection to what’s happening as well as no complaints from customers.

The statement says: “We have not been asked to conduct a recall. EzriCare does not manufacture the Lubricant Eye Drops. Nevertheless, and in an abundance of caution, EzriCare recommends that during this evolving situation you discontinue use of any portions of EzriCare Artificial Tears Lubricant Eye Drops you may have until we can discover more details about any potential safety concerns.”

The current update states that EzriCare Artificial Tears had not yet been recalled. In fact, these are still currently being sold on Amazon and in stores like Walmart.

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