Keep your eye on this disturbing developing story.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say 68 patients in 16 US states have been diagnosed with a rare bacterial infection likely caused by preservative-free eyedrops.
The health organization says a rare strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which is resistant to antibiotics, has resulted in the death of one American, as well as vision loss in eight other people across the country.
Four people infected have been forced to have their eyes surgically removed, including Florida grandmother Clara Oliva, who is now suing the makers of EzriCare Artificial Tears.
“My client is horribly injured and now legally blind. I am currently investigating others similarly injured by this recalled product,” Oliva’s attorney Natasha Cortes wrote in an email to Law&Crime. “These companies must be held accountable for the devastating consequences their product has caused Ms. Oliva and other consumers.”
Back in January, the CDC warned people to stop using that product, as well as Delsam Pharma’s Artificial Tears, after opened bottles taken from patients were found to contain the potentially deadly bacteria.
Cortes, told NBC that the Floridian was frequently using EzriCare Artificial Tears before developing the infection.
“It [the product] doesn’t contain preservatives, which are used to fight bacterial contamination,” the legal eagle told the news network in an interview on Tuesday. “There’s likely many more people who have suffered infections who are unaware, like Ms. Oliva was.”
According to Oliva’s suit, the 68-year-old grandmother started using EzriCare Artificial Tears in May of last year.
Several months later, her right eye became “red, swollen, and abnormally watery.” She subsequently developed a bacterial infection that caused a corneal ulcer and a deterioration of her vision.
“Given the severity of the infection in Mrs. Oliva’s right eye, the exhaustion of treatment methods, and the risk of the infection spreading systematically creating a life-threatening condition, it was determined that an enucleation of Mrs. Oliva’s right eye was the best option to control the severe antibiotic-resistant infection,” the suit declares.
“On September 1, 2022, Mrs. Oliva’s right eye was surgically removed and replaced with a plastic implant. Given her decreased visual acuity of 20/200 in her remaining left eye, Mrs. Oliva is now legally blind.”
Meanwhile, the CDC has not released any personal information about the person who died after developing the rare strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
In January, the health organization warned customers to stop using both EzriCare Artificial Tears and Delsam Pharma’s Artificial Tears after they clocked the rare outbreak of infections.
In February, Global Pharma — the company which owns both of those products — issued a voluntary recall following a formal recommendation from the Food and Drug Administration.
However, a spokesperson EzriCare Artificial Tears said that testing has not definitively linked the outbreak of Pseudomonas aeruginosa to their products.
“To the greatest extent possible, we have been contacting customers to advise them against continued use of the product,” the company rep stated.
“We also immediately reached out to both CDC and FDA and indicated our willingness to cooperate with any requests they have of us.”