CDC: Vision loss, one death possibly linked to brand of artificial tears

Although no recall has been issued, agency advises everyone stop using the eyedrops

The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating a multistate cluster of bacterial infections linked to a brand of over-the-counter eyedrops.

One person has died and at least three people have suffered permanent vision loss after using preservative-free EzriCare Artificial Tears, the CDC announced in a January 20 statement.

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The CDC, in partnership with state and local health departments, identified 50 patients from 11 states — California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Texas, Utah and Washington — from May 17, 2022, to January 19, 2023.

Most of the patients identified with Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a type of bacterium resistant to most antibiotics, said they had used EzriCare Artificial Tears before they became sick.

Eleven of the 50 developed eye infections, NBC News reported, and at least three were blinded in one eye. Some people developed respiratory or urinary tract infections, and one person died when the bacterium entered the patient’s bloodstream.

This bacterium’s resistance to standard antibiotics is “what’s so concerning,” Dr. Jill Weatherhead, an assistant professor of tropical medicine and infectious diseases at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, told NBC News. “Our standard treatments are no longer available” to treat this infection.

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

Although the drops have not be recalled, the CDC recommends you discontinue using EzriCare Artificial Tears until its investigation and laboratory analyses are complete.

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