This is a developing story that is quite disturbing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have been 68 cases of a rare bacterial infection in 16 US states that is believed to be caused by preservative-free eyedrops.
The CDC has identified a rare strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which is resistant to antibiotics and has resulted in the death of one person, as well as vision loss in eight other patients across the country.
The infection has been so severe in some cases that four people have had to have their eyes surgically removed. One of these individuals is a Florida grandmother named Clara Oliva, who is now suing the makers of EzriCare Artificial Tears.
Oliva's attorney, Natasha Cortes, stated that her client is legally blind and that she is investigating other individuals who have been similarly injured by the product. She believes that many others may have suffered infections without realizing it.
The CDC warned people to stop using EzriCare Artificial Tears, as well as Delsam Pharma's Artificial Tears and Ointment, back in January after opened bottles taken from patients were found to contain the potentially deadly bacteria.
According to Oliva's lawsuit, she started using EzriCare Artificial Tears in May of last year and subsequently developed a bacterial infection that caused a corneal ulcer and a deterioration of her vision.
On September 1, 2022, Oliva's right eye had to be surgically removed and replaced with a plastic implant. She is now legally blind with a decreased visual acuity of 20/200 in her remaining left eye.
The CDC has not released any personal information about the person who died after developing the rare strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa. In February, Global Pharma - the company that owns both EzriCare Artificial Tears and Delsam Pharma's Artificial Tears and Ointment - issued a voluntary recall following a formal recommendation from the Food and Drug Administration.
However, a spokesperson for EzriCare Artificial Tears stated that testing has not definitively linked the outbreak of Pseudomonas aeruginosa to their products. This is a developing story, and we will continue to monitor it closely.