Eyedrops Are Causing Bacterial Infections And Blindness, Here’s What To Look Out For

By Sckylar Gibby-Brown | Published

Eyedrops are causing bacterial infections that can lead to blindness and even death, according to Science Alert. Customers in the United States have been cautioned to exercise extreme care when selecting eye drop products, as dozens of over-the-counter options have been linked back to a facility in India that has been deemed unsanitary despite requirements that the facility be sterile.

The FDA Recalls Over-The-Counter Eye Drops

Earlier this year, an alarming outbreak of eye infections struck over 80 individuals across multiple states in the US, linked to a rare strain of drug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacterium. Investigations determined that the infections were associated with lubricating eyedrops from the manufacturers EzriCare and Delsam Pharma, leading to a joint recall by the Food and Drug Advisory (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Infected Eye Drops Claimed Multiple Lives

Tragically, at least four lives were lost to the drug-resistant P. aeruginosa infection. The infection, which entered the eye from the eyedrops, spread from the eye to the bloodstream, urine, and the lungs. Additionally, over a dozen people sustained permanent vision loss, and four individuals had to undergo surgical removal of their eyeballs.

In response to the incident, the FDA has issued a warning regarding a range of over-the-counter eyedrop products from the same manufacturing plant in India. This includes some well-known options available at major retailers like CVS Health, Rite Aid, Target, and Walmart.

Contaminated Eye Drops Might Remain On Store Shelves

Most of the eyedrop brands contained in the FDA’s warning have not yet been directly linked to any known eye infections, so the warning is not yet an official recall. However, it’s a precaution that drug suppliers and retailers are taking very seriously. CVS, Rite Aid, and Target have already initiated the removal of these products from their store shelves and websites. 

In warning about the eyedrops, the FDA’s website states, “Products branded as Leader, Rugby, and Velocity may still be available to purchase in stores and online and should not be purchased.”

FDA Warns Consumers To Throw Away Their Eye Drops

For customers who have already purchased eyedrops from the brands listed by the FDA, the FDA advises either disposing of them at an official drug “take-back” site or checking the agency’s “flush list” to determine if the eyedrop ingredients can be safely discarded down the toilet.

While disposing, Dr. Christopher Starr, a clinical spokesman for the American Academy of Ophthalmology, emphasized that consumers should take precautions such as avoiding contact between the tip of the eye drop dispenser and the eye, skin, eyelashes, or fingers, as this can introduce contamination.

Those With Symptoms Are Urged To Seek Medical Care


If patients or healthcare providers observe any uncomfortable symptoms resulting from the use of eyedrops, such as redness, pain, light sensitivity, or discharge from the eye area, they are advised to discontinue usage immediately and seek medical care. Additionally, doctors and patients are advised to report cases to the FDA to track potential further developments.

Healthcare professionals and regulatory agencies are working diligently to ensure the safety of eyedrops available in the market. The public’s cooperation in heeding warnings, reporting adverse effects, and adhering to safety guidelines is pivotal in mitigating the risk of potentially harmful infections associated with these products.

Subscribe for Science News
Get More Real But Weird

Science News

Expect a confirmation email if you Subscribe.