It was late last summer when Dr. Guillermo Amescua. Began doctors noticing “something strange” about eye infections at his clinic.Amescua, a cornea specialist at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Specializes in the use of antibiotics to treat bacterial eye infections.
He said Miami’s warm weather often forces people to relax by the pool or beach before removing contact lenses. Giving bacteria — Pseudomonas, mostly — a perfect breeding ground.
Once infected, patients say their eyes hurt. They cannot see clearly. They are sensitive to light. That’s often not a problem, Amescua said. “We usually take care of it,” he said. “No problem.”
But his arsenal of antibiotics stopped working. In the past six months, Amescua said he has encountered. At least seven cases of Pseudomonas bacteria resistant to antibiotics, with devastating results.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The doctors new strain is Pseudomonas aeruginosa that has never been seen in the United States before.
Patients in need of cornea transplant. Some went blind.
“I got complication after complication,” Amescua said. “In my 10-plus years I can’t remember losing the battle against Pseudomonas infection so many times in such a short period of time.”
Among the nationwide cases, the CDC said the common thread appears. To be a specific brand of eyedrops: Ezricare artificial tears. The agency urged people to stop using the eyedrops immediately.
Most were purchased doctors online, but at least one person reported buying the drops at Costco, the CDC told todaystrend news this week.
As of Wednesday, artificial tears manufactured in India by Global Pharma Healthcare.
New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin. The company has recalled its products, also sold under the Delsum Pharma brand name.
One person died and five others were blinded, at least in one eye, the CDC said. The agency first reported potential problems with the eyedrops on January 20. But didn’t issue a public health alert on the matter until February 1.
“This was a very complex investigation that required many techniques. That were time-consuming and challenging to coordinate and execute. CDC spokesperson told todaystrend news”Due to the widespread nature of this outbreak, the investigation required coordination. And data collection from a large number of state and local health jurisdictions.”
One suspected case involved 81-year-old Judy Gregory, of Elsmere, Kentucky. Gregory said he used EzriCare artificial tears to relieve his dry eyes before he was hospitalized with. An eye infection on June 1, 2022.
Her daughter Kim Harrison said her mother’s infection was so bad. Her doctors “said it would be a miracle if they could save the eye.”
Fortunately, they did. But eight months later, Gregory says he is suffering from vision loss. Harrison still takes his mother to eye appointments because Gregory’s impaired vision means he can no longer drive. Gregory said his doctor reported the case to health officials.
Although the CDC has yet to definitively trace infections to the eyedrops, the agency. Is investigating the cases with the Food and Drug Administration and state and local health officials.
The CDC is now testing unopened bottles of EzriCare artificial. Tears “for possible contamination during manufacturing,” the agency said.
The FDA first became doctors aware of the Pseudomonas aeruginosa outbreak in December 2022, a spokesperson told. linked to EzriCare’s artificial tears. Over-the-counter eyedrops do not require FDA approval.
Darlene Miller, who heads the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute lab, urged people. Who may have been infected by the drops to contact a physician immediately.
The bacteria can destroy the eye within 48 hours, Miller said.According to the CDC, symptoms of an eye infection include:
Yellow, green or clear discharge from the eyes. Eye pain or discomfort.Redness of the eyes or doctors eyelids. Feeling something in your eye (foreign body sensation).ncreased sensitivity to light blur.
Meanwhile, doctors like Amescua worry that people are still using contaminated eye drops.
“It’s worrisome because it has resistance to everything we have,” he said.