One person blinded by bacteria linked to EzriCare eyedrops

One person blinded by bacteria linked to EzriCare eyedrops

One person has died and at least three others are left with permanent vision loss because of a bacterial infection that could be linked to a brand of over-the- counter eyedrops, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC reported that a majority of those affected reported using preservative-free EzriCare Artificial Tears before becoming ill.

The CDC recommends that patients discontinuing use of EzriCare Artificial Tears until the epidemiological investigation and laboratory analyses are complete, even though the infections have not been definitively traced to the eyedrops. The CDC team has identified at least 50 people in 11 states with Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a type of bacteria resistant to most antibiotics. Most patients said they had used EzriCare Artificial Tears before they became ill.

Eleven developed eye infections, and at least three of them were blinded in one eye. Others had respiratory infections or urinary tract infections. One person died when the bacteria entered the patient's bloodstream.

It is not known whether the affected patients had underlying eye conditions that would have made them more susceptible, such as glaucoma or cataracts. Symptoms of an eye infection include pain, swelling, discharge, redness, blurry vision, sensitivity to light and the feeling of a foreign object stuck in the eye.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria is found in water, soil and even in the hands of otherwise healthy people. Infections from the bacteria usually occur in hospital settings among people with weakened immune systems.

This type of bacteria is often resistant to standard antibiotics.

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

The drops under investigation are labeled as preservative-free. The product does not contain anything that might prevent microbiological growth. The product could have been contaminated during the manufacturing process or when a person with the bacteria on the skin opened the container.

The CDC found the bacteria in bottles of eyedrops, and is testing to see whether it matches the strain found in patients.

As of Tuesday, EzriCare Artificial Tears had not been recalled. They have been sold on Amazon and in stores such as Walmart.