East Texas ophthalmologist weighs in on nationwide eye drop recall

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Published: Mar. 24, 2023 at 3:45 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 24, 2023 at 8:23 PM CDT
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NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - Two brands of eye drops have been recalled because they have blinded people and caused three deaths.

The FDA has recalled artificial tears from the brands Ezricare and Delsam Pharma. Anna Lehman, an ophthalmologist with Lehman Eye Center in Nacogdoches, said both of these products treat dry eye, a common problem.

“People often use artificial tears when their eyes are red or burning or watering or gritty feeling, and it can even cause blurred vision. So, artificial tears, because they are generally very safe, they are sold over the counter,” Lehman said.

Lehmann said you can treat dry eye with drops that have preservatives in them to kill bacteria or with preservative-free versions, which they recommend for severe cases. Lehmann said these brands were preservative-free and were contaminated with a bacteria called Pseudomonas Aeruginosa.

“This strand in particular, the reason this is such a bad outbreak is that it’s resistant to the normal medications that we use to treat it,” Lehmann said.

These brands were recalled in February and have since affected 68 people in 16 states, Texas being one of them. It’s unknown how the bacteria made it into the eye drops.

Symptoms of an infection from this bacteria include yellow or green eye discharge, discomfort, redness, increased light sensitivity and blurred vision.

After making it into the eye, the bacteria enter the bloodstream, which can cause death.

“One of the good things in this situation is most people purchase their artificial tears locally and per the FDA. The brand in question was manufactured and was sold solely online. Now, it was sold nationwide, and that’s why it’s in so many states, but if you purchased your tears locally, in a store, you should be okay,” Lehmann said.

Lehmann said outside of this outbreak everyone should always practice good hygiene with their eyes.

She said you should always wash your hands before administering eye drops and avoid touching your eyes in daily activities.

“I think practicing these good hygiene tips, not touching the drop bottle to your eye and making sure you’re not using expired or recalled drops, most people are safe and can safely continue to use artificial tears,” Lehmann said.

If you have purchased any artificial tears online, Dr. Lehmann suggested checking the bottle, box or a receipt for the brand name. Again, the recalled brands are Ezricare and Delsam Pharma

If you have used these drops and have any symptoms, see your eye doctor as quickly as possible.