There has been much concern and confusion about this recall as of Friday, April 7, 2023. The CDC has identified 68 patients with infections along with three deaths associated with the outbreak from the recalled eyedrops in 16 states. More than half of the cases have been found in long-term healthcare facilities. Most cases are found to have been linked to contaminated eyedrops that had been imported from India. Eight patients needed corneal transplants or had at least one eye removed. Even with recalled batches of eyedrops being removed from stores, shelves, and healthcare facilities, the CDC expects more cases to be found in the coming weeks and months.
Many patients use daily drops to combat dryness when wearing contacts or as a treatment for other eye diseases.
The FDA released a preliminary report on Monday, April 3, 2023, from an inspection at the Global Pharma healthcare facility in India, finding problems with the manufacturing process and sterility issues. Global Pharma and the distributors of its products that are recalled include Ezri Care artificial tears, Dalsam Pharma artificial tears, and artificial Eye Ointment.
The outbreak from these eyedrops was caused by the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa, A common bacteria that is one of the most common causes of eye infections. The strain found in the recalled products has never been found in the US, until now. It turns out that this bacterium is antibiotic resistant.
The bacteria, Pseudomonas aeruginosa is aggressive and can be found in many types of environments, including water, soil, and human waste.
Most healthy people can fight this bacterium, but for someone with corneal cell damage caused by injury, or illness, or are immunocompromised, or have chronic dry eye, the bacteria can destroy the cornea in 24 to 48 hours.
Another danger of this infection is that with the eyes being so intricately linked to the nasal cavity, the bacteria can move into the respiratory tract leading to pneumonia. Pseudomonas aeruginosa can affect almost any tissue in the body as it travels through the bloodstream, and it can cause sepsis.
If symptoms of infection appear, seek medical care as soon as possible. The symptoms include:
• Yellow, green, or clear discharge from the eye
• Eye pain or discomfort
• Redness of the eye or eyelid
• Feeling the sensation of something being in your eye
• Increased sensitivity to light
• Blurry vision
Scientists are concerned that the rare treatment-resistant bacteria found in the eyedrops can spread person-to-person and poses a risk of establishing itself as a recurrent problem in the United States. In most cases, the best way to prevent an eye infection is to use common sense hygiene practices:
• Wash your hands
• Don’t rub your eyes
• Clean your contacts (again wash your hands before putting the contacts in your eyes)
• Clean your contact lens case (replace it every three months)
If you do find you have an eye infection:
Do not reuse a washcloth after washing your face
Launder, linens, bedding, or clothing that has come in contact with your face and eyes
Clean surfaces someone with the infection has come in contact with, (Hydrogen peroxide and sodium hypochlorite disinfectants are more effective against Pseudomonas aeruginosa).