EzriCare eye drops under investigation after dozens of infections, one death in 11 states, CDC says

Posted at 3:28 PM, Feb 01, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-01 18:09:16-05

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WXYZ) — The type of bacteria involved is Pseudomonas aeruginosa. It can be found in our environment – like in water and soil. But it’s well-known to cause infections in people in healthcare settings. Particularly folks who’ve had surgery, are using a catheter or a breathing machine.

However, recently, Pseudomonas aeruginosa has been linked to Artificial Tears eye drops. Over 50 infections have been reported across 11 states. Eleven people were diagnosed with eye infections, and three are permanently blind in one eye. Some of the patients were hospitalized, and sadly one person died of a bloodstream infection.

So, what brand of artificial tears was involved? Well, many of the people said they used the brand called “EzriCare”. And while CDC testing is still ongoing, Pseudomonas aeruginosa was identified in open EzriCare bottles.

Why would this happen?

Well, EzriCare eye drops are preservative-free. This means that the product contains zero ingredients that keep bacteria from growing. We don’t know yet if the bacteria developed once the bottles were open or if the products were contaminated while being manufactured. So it’s important that anyone who’s bought EzriCare Artificial Tears to stop using this product immediately until the CDC investigation has been completed.

Pseudomonas bacteria are always finding new ways to sidestep antibiotics. In fact, these germs make enzymes called carbapenemases that actually break down antibiotics. And unfortunately, they’re even showing resistance to an antibiotic drug called carbapenem that’s reserved to treat complicated multidrug-resistant bacterial infections. This is why in 2017, over 2,700 deaths were reported due to this germ.

As for symptoms, watch out for the following:

  • eye pain or discomfort
  • swelling, redness or inflammation
  • discharge from the eye and
  • changes in vision like blurry vision or light sensitivity

If your eye condition worsens or persists, then please seek medical help. Even though Pseudomonas bacterial infections are becoming difficult to treat, healthcare providers will still collect a specimen. They’ll test any bacteria that are present against a set of antibiotics. And this will help determine which are active against the germ and help guide the treatment plan.