Cases of vision loss and deaths are mounting in an investigation into eye drops contaminated with a rare strain of the drug-resistant bacteria, Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
In all, four people have died, with one new death now being reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Meanwhile, a total of 14 people have experienced vision loss, with six new cases reported last week. Infections have now been reported in 81 people living in 18 states. Four cases have involved people who have had to have their eyeballs surgically removed.
The cases involve 10 brands of eye drops, most commonly EzriCare Artificial Tears. Global Pharma Healthcare’s Artificial Tears Lubricant Eye Drops were first recalled in February. The drops were distributed by EzriCare and Delsam Pharma.
Among the newly identified patients, many had either remembered using the eye drops or lived in long-term care facilities in which others were infected with the bacteria. The bacteria can spread to those who have not used the drops, the CDC noted.
Signs of infection can include yellow, green, or clear discharge from the eye. They can also include eye pain or discomfort, redness of the eye or eyelid, foreign body sensation, light sensitivity, and blurry vision.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspected the Global Pharma facility for 11 days in mid-February. In a report that was released afterward, the agency said that the plant’s manufacturing process “lacked assurance of product sterility” for batches made between December 2020 and April 2022.
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