Woman puts in eye drops while sitting at a table.
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  • According to a new report, the bacterial infection linked to eye drops is able to spread person-to-person.
  • Three deaths and eight cases of vision loss due to bacterial infection have been possibly linked to the use of certain artificial tears products.
  • As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention investigates, the agency recommends that clinicians and patients stop using EzriCare’s or Delsam Pharma’s Artificial Tears products, both manufactured by India-based Global Pharma Healthcare.
  • In February, Global Pharma Healthcare voluntarily recalled its Artificial Tears Lubricant Eye Drops and its Artificial Eye Ointment due to possible contamination.

Three people have died and there have been eight reports of people losing their vision after developing a bacterial eye infection possibly linked to the use of certain artificial tears products, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

And now there is a new report that the bacterial infection may be able to spread from person to person.

The CDC is reportedly investigating a series of infections of at a long-term care center in Connecticut, according to the New York Times. In that outbreak, the disease was able to spread person-to-person, raising concerns that the strain could become a wider outbreak.

In addition, there have been four reports of people needing to have their eyeball removed as a result of the infection.

In total, the CDC has identified 68 patients affected with an infection of drug-resistant strain of bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa in 16 states as of March 14.

As the agency continues to investigate, it recommends that clinicians and patients stop using EzriCare’s or Delsam Pharma’s Artificial Tears products, both manufactured by India-based Global Pharma Healthcare. EzriCare’s product was the brand most commonly reported being used by affected patients, the CDC said.

On Feb. 2, Global Pharma Healthcare voluntarily recalled its Artificial Tears Lubricant Eye Drops. The company issued another voluntary recall on Feb. 24 for its Artificial Eye Ointment due to “possible microbial contamination.”

MSM eye drop recall

In a separate incident, Pharmedica USA issued a voluntary worldwide recall of two lots of its Purely Soothing, 15% MSM eye drops, the Food and Drug Administration announced March 3.

The recall notice warns consumers that the products being recalled are non-sterile, meaning they may contain bacteria or other germs.

“Use of contaminated eye drops can result in the risk of eye infections that could result in blindness,” the notice said.

Dr. Diane Hilal-Campo, an ophthalmologist and founder of twenty/twenty beauty, said symptoms of an eye infection can vary, but may include redness, itching eye pain, a gritty sensation in the eye, discharge, sensitivity to light or a decrease in vision.

“If someone is experiencing any of these symptoms, no matter how mild, I encourage them to seek medical attention immediately,” she told Healthline.

Pharmedica has advised customers to immediately stop using the product, which can be returned to the place of purchase for a refund.

The Phoenix, Arizona-based company said in its notice that it has not received any reports of illness related to use of the recalled eye drops.

Purely Soothing, 15% MSM eye drops are an anti-inflammatory topical solution to relieve eye irritation and swelling.

The affected products were sold worldwide via e-commerce sites such as Amazon Marketplace, the company said.

The eye drops come in white, cylindrical bottles and have eye dropper caps and white lids. The products affected by the recall are:

  • LOT#: 2203PS01, 1 oz, UPC 7 31034 91379 9
  • LOT#: 1808051, ½ oz, UPC 7 31034 91382 9

Images of the labels for these products can be found with the recall notice.

Consumers with questions concerning the Purely Soothing, 15% MSM recall can contact Pharmedica by email at osm@pharmedicausa.com, or by calling (623) 698-1752 between the hours of 8 a.m and 5 p.m. Mountain Time.

Consumers who have experienced any problems that may be related to their use of this product should contact their physician or healthcare provider.

Soothing the eyes safely

To reduce the risk of infection when soothing your eyes, Hilal-Campo recommends choosing artificial tears that come in single-use vials.

“To use correctly, these single-use products should be opened and instilled with clean hands, and then immediately discarded,” she said.

Multi-use bottles increase the risk of spreading bacteria or other germs to the eye, because the dropper tip has more chances to come into contact with the eye, skin, or other surfaces.

Hilal-Campo also suggests that people choose preservative-free eye drops, which she says are easier on the surface of the eye.

In addition, “stick with large, trusted brands for your over-the-counter eyedrops — like Allergan, Alcon, and Bausch and Lomb,” she said.

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