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Eyedrops warning issued after one person dies and others have eyes removed

Tom Wood

Published 
| Last updated 

Eyedrops warning issued after one person dies and others have eyes removed

Featured Image Credit: NBC

One person has died and others have had their eyes removed after using eyedrops that have allegedly caused a rare bacterial infection.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have identified at least 68 patients in 16 US states that have contracted the infection which was most likely caused by preservative-free eyedrops.

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The rare bacteria is called pseudomonas aeruginosa and is resistant to antibiotics.

So far, one US citizen has died and vision loss has been reported in eight other patients throughout the country.

Of the infected, four have had to have their eye surgically removed, with one – Floridian grandmother Clara Oliva – now suing the company that makes the eyedrops, Global Pharma Healthcare.

Her attorney Natasha Cortes said: “My client is horribly injured and now legally blind. I am currently investigating others similarly injured by this recalled product.

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“These companies must be held accountable for the devastating consequences their product has caused Ms. Oliva and other consumers.”

Clara Oliva had to have her eye removed. Credit: NBC
Clara Oliva had to have her eye removed. Credit: NBC

The CDC did advise people not to use the product – EzriCare Artificial Tears - back in January, alongside another product, Delsam Pharma’s Artificial Tears and Ointment.

That came after bottles that had been opened by patients were tested and found to contain the potentially deadly bacteria.

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Cortes said her client was frequently using EzriCare Artificial Tears before she contracted the infection, telling NBC that she started using the product in May of 2022.

“It [the product] doesn’t contain preservatives, which are used to fight bacterial contamination,” she said.

"There’s likely many more people who have suffered infections who are unaware, like Ms. Oliva was.”

After months of using the product, her right eye started to get ‘red, swollen, and abnormally watery’.

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Then, she developed an infection that caused her vision to deteriorate, as well as a corneal ulcer.

The lawsuit states: “Given the severity of the infection in Mrs. Oliva’s right eye, the exhaustion of treatment methods, and the risk of the infection spreading systematically creating a life-threatening condition, it was determined that an enucleation of Mrs. Oliva’s right eye was the best option to control the severe antibiotic-resistant infection.

“On Sept. 1, 2022, Mrs. Oliva’s right eye was surgically removed and replaced with a plastic implant.

“Given her decreased visual acuity of 20/200 in her remaining left eye, Mrs. Oliva is now legally blind.”

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The identity of the person who died is not known.

Her eye worsened to the point where it had to be removed, leaving her legally blind. Credit: NBC
Her eye worsened to the point where it had to be removed, leaving her legally blind. Credit: NBC

The product was recalled by Global Pharma Healthcare in February, following a recommendation from the US Food and Drug Administration.

A spokesperson for EzriCare Artificial Tears has said that testing has not yet definitively proven that the bacterial outbreak is linked to its products.

A representative said: “To the greatest extent possible, we have been contacting customers to advise them against continued use of the product.

“We also immediately reached out to both CDC and FDA and indicated our willingness to cooperate with any requests they have of us.”

Topics: News, US News, Health, Science

Tom Wood
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