The CDC is warning that anyone using EzriCare Artificial Tears should stop following the death of one person from a bacterial infection that's potentially linked to the over-the-counter eye drops. From May to Jan. 19, the CDC identified at least 50 people in 11 states with an infection of the antibiotic-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria. The bacteria often causes infection in hospital patients, per NBC News. "Patient outcomes include permanent vision loss resulting from ocular infection, hospitalization, and death of one patient with bloodstream infection," the CDC said in a Jan. 20 statement.
The infections are "so concerning" because "our standard treatments are no longer available" to treat them, Dr. Jill Weatherhead, an assistant professor of infectious diseases at Baylor College, tells NBC. Patients developed respiratory, urinary tract, and eye infections. Of 11 people who developed eye infections, at least three were blinded in one eye. Most patients had reported using "artificial tears"—most commonly EzriCare Artificial Tears—before the infection was identified, according to the CDC.
The brand is labeled as preservative-free, meaning "the product does not contain anything that might prevent microbiological growth," per NBC. Lab tests found the bacteria in opened bottles of EzriCare Artificial Tears, according to the CDC. Experts are working to determine if the bacteria matches the outbreak strain. Meanwhile, tests are being performed on unopened bottles of the product. Fox News reports EzriCare Artificial Tears "had not been recalled as of Tuesday evening." (Read more antibiotic-resistant bacteria stories.)