Contaminated eyedrops lead to blindness, death in United States

Several over-the-counter eyedrop products from Ezricare Artificial Tears, and possibly some other eyedrop brands have been contaminated with drug-resistant bacteria, causing eye infections across 12 states that have blinded several people, and killed one that we know of. The identification of the brand is from products that patients reported using. Ezricare was the most commonly used, but other brands have been mentioned. The CDC is currently only telling people to stop using Ezricare products. For those who might be effected, here’s what the CDC recommends:

Patients should stop using EzriCare Artificial Tears pending additional information and guidance from CDC and FDA. If patients were advised to use EzriCare Artificial Tears by their healthcare provider, they should follow up with their healthcare provider for recommendations about alternative treatment options.

Patients who have used EzriCare preservative-free artificial tears and who have signs or symptoms of an eye infection should seek medical care immediately. At this time, there is no recommendation for testing of patients who have used this product and who are not experiencing any signs or symptoms of infection.

Eye infection symptoms may include:

  • Yellow, green, or clear discharge from the eye
  • Eye pain or discomfort
  • Redness of the eye or eyelid
  • Feeling of something in your eye (foreign body sensation)
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Blurry vision

This strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa appears to be new to the United States, and both the CDC and FDA are investigating to figure out what happened. As I’m writing this, all reports point to 55 cases across CA, CO, CT, FL, NJ, NM, NY, NV, TX, UT, WA, and WI, with five people suffering permanent vision loss, and one death. It’s likely that the outbreak is worse than that, given that this is an early report, so again – if you use products like this and you start experiencing symptoms, get help – this is not something you want to just wait and see if it goes away, and the more advanced the infection, the harder to treat or to reverse damage done.

The big scare here, of course, is that this bacterium is, in the words of the CDC, extensively drug-resistant. This is a problem that has been growing for a while now. Experts did try to sound alarms on the over-use of antibiotics, particularly in the United States, but for the most part, they seem to have been ignored. The good news, and this is why you should seek treatment, is that one particular antibiotic called cefiderocol does seem to work on this strain. While there are millions of drug-resistant infections every year, and thousands of deaths, this seems to be the first outbreak linked to a contaminated product. Obviously the corporation is insisting that the link isn’t definitive, but it seems highly likely that more concrete proof will come.

Spread the word, and take care of yourselves and each other.


  1. Katydid says

    Thanks; the local news has been showing snippets of what you gave out, in between ads disguised as news for “the steal of the day” for stuff like home sauna bags and makeup air brush systems.

    The bigger issue is the rise of antibiotic-resistant infections. We’ve been warned about this for a couple of decades now, just as we had been warned that a global pandemic was just a matter of time.

  2. Katydid says

    Another issue is that lately in the USA, a vast number of things have been found to be contaminated after they killed people: baby formula, salad mix, eye drops… It feels as if we’ve regressed back in time to the travelling circus and the snake-oil salesmen, where it’s buyer-beware.

  3. says

    I feel like at least part of that is deregulation/regulatory capture, plus the back-door deregulation of under-staffing regulatory bodies so they functionally can’t keep an eye on business. Stuff like having one pipeline inspector for all of North Dakota or whatever.

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