Eye drops and safety issues: Here’s what you need to know now
In light of recent news that a brand of over-the-counter eye drops may cause a bacterial infection that causes Loss of sight and even deathUsers may be wary of using them at all.
Thomas Stokerman, OD, PhD, director of optometric services for University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio, says eye drops are generally perfectly safe to use.
“Reported infections from eye care products are rare,” he told Fox News Digital in an email.
“It is highly likely that improper use of eye care products caused the injury.”
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) asked people to stop using EzriCare artificial tears on January 20 after 50 patients reported eye infections associated with the product.
The bacteria, Pseudomonas aeruginosa — which is resistant to many antibiotics — was linked to respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, permanent vision loss, hospitalizations and even a death.
Dr. Stockermans saw one of the affected patients in the ophthalmology department at UH Cleveland Medical Center.
The person lost almost all of his vision in the affected eye.
A bacteria in EzriCare artificial tears was linked to respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, permanent vision loss, hospitalization and even one death.
On February 23, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) urged consumers to avoid buying or using another product, Delsum Pharma’s Artificial Eye Ointment. Possible bacterial contamination.
Long before the Ezricare and Delsum Pharma incidents, other eye products were recalled due to eye infections, Dr. Stokermans said.
In previous cases, the infections apparently came from contact lens solutions.
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“In May 2007, the CDC linked AMO Complete MoisturePLUS contact lens solution to reports of Acanthamoeba keratitis, a rare parasite that can cause a serious and potentially life-threatening eye infection,” he said.
“And in May 2006, the FDA issued a recall for B&L’s ReNu Moisture Loc after several users reported fungal keratitis infections, which are serious and difficult to treat. B&L settled 600 lawsuits from people affected by the infection. .”
Infections are seen as the exception, not the rule
Dr. Stokermans called the infections linked to Azricare “very unfortunate.”
They have eroded consumer confidence in access to safe, healthy medicines and supplements, he said.
“Often, there is no way to know in advance that a manufacturer has produced a tainted product until many consumers are affected and it is advertised in the news,” he said.
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“It is important to remember that eye drop recalls due to microbial infections are rare.”
He added that the best protection against infection or eye disease is to treat the eyes only with drops prescribed or recommended by a doctor.
Optometrist Juanita Collier, MS, OD, FCOVD, offers vision therapy at her 4D Vision Gym office in Cromwell, Connecticut.
Preservative eye drops are generally safe to use, he said, because the preservatives safely extend the life of the drops and protect against pathogens. However, she recommends caution with preservative-free brands.
How to know if you have an infection
With allergies and other medical conditions often causing red, itchy, and watery eyes, it can be difficult to determine when symptoms indicate an infection.
“Bacterial infections are often associated with goopy discharge and redness, like sand in the eye, called foreign body sensation (FBS),” Dr. Stokermans explained.
The doctor said that viral infections would likely involve only eruptions and FBS, while allergies are more associated with itching, watery and swelling.
The infection can also affect the conjunctiva, the thin, clear membrane that protects the eye. When it becomes inflamed or infected, it can cause a condition called conjunctivitis, commonly known as pink eye.
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When the infection affects the cornea (the front surface of the eye), it can cause a condition called keratitis, where the cornea becomes inflamed, Dr Stockermans said.
“Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection [associated with EzriCare Artificial Tears] It causes a type of keratitis where the infection breaks down the surface of the cornea,” said the doctor. “This is called a corneal ulcer, which is the most dangerous of the types of infection discussed and can lead to blindness. can.”
“One of the most important signs of a serious problem is when a red eye is associated with blurred vision or vision loss.”
Given that infections, allergies, and general sensitivities can share some of the same symptoms, it’s always best to consult an eye doctor.
“One of the most important signs of a serious problem is when a red eye is associated with blurred vision or vision loss,” said Dr Stockermans.
In that case, he recommends going to the emergency room.
Dr. Many eye drops will sting a bit when they’re first put in, which is usually not a cause for concern, Collier said.
“If the eye drops cause severe irritation, discontinue use and call your eye doctor immediately,” he said.
Tips for safe eye drop use
Before using any type of eye drop, Dr. Stockermans said it’s important to make sure the tamper-proof seal isn’t broken.
Next, check the expiration date and confirm that you are using the correct product.
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“I’ve personally had patients who thought they were using their eye drops and ended up putting super glue in their eyes instead,” he said.
Dr. Collier advises her patients to never touch the tip of the bottle to their eye — no matter what type of drop they’re using — because it’s a prime entryway for microbes and can also scratch the eye.
Also, Dr. Stockermans recommends this safety tip: “When using preservative-free drops, discard the container after use. The ingredients in preservative-free products do not kill or slow the growth of microbes and with an infectious agent. Can be easily stained.”
For best results when using eye drops, Dr. Stockermans said to sit in a chair, tilt the head back and look up.
Pull down the lower eyelid and insert a drop into the pocket that is formed between the eyeball and the lower lid.
If different types of eye drops are used, he recommends waiting 15 minutes between each application.
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Between uses, eye drops should be stored at room temperature or refrigerated as directed on the label.
“Droplets exposed to high temperatures can lose their ability to inhibit microbial growth,” said Dr Stockermans. “I had a patient who developed acanthamoeba keratitis [a rare but serious infection of the eye] After forgetting her contact lens solution in the clothes dryer.”
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Those who are unsure about the safety of an eye drop product can check the FDA website for any recall notices or warnings.
“Most importantly, check with your optometrist before starting any drops,” says Dr. Collier.