In light of recent news that over-the-counter eye drops may have caused bacterial infections that have led to vision loss and even deathconsumers may be generally wary of using them.
Thomas Stockermans, OD, PhD, Director of Optometry Services at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center Cleveland, Ohiosaid that eye drops are generally completely safe to use.
“Reported cases of infection through eye care products are extremely rare,” he said in an email to Fox News Digital.
“It’s much more likely that the misuse of eye care products could lead to injury.”
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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in January. 20 urged people to stop using EzriCare artificial tears after 50 patients reported product-related eye infections.
The bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which is resistant to many antibiotics, has been associated with respiratory infectionsurinary tract infections, permanent vision loss, hospitalization and even one death.
Dr. Stockermans examined one of the affected patients in the ophthalmology department at Cleveland Medical Center.
The person has almost completely lost sight in the affected eye.
Bacteria in EzriCare artificial tears have been linked to respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, permanent vision loss, hospitalization, and even one death.
Feb. 23, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) urged consumers to avoid buying or using another product, Delsam Pharma artificial eye ointment, due to possible bacterial infection.
Long before the EzriCare and Delsam Pharma incidents, other eye products were recalled due to eye infections. Stockermans noted.
In previous cases, contamination appeared to come 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 blinding eye infection,” he said.
“And in May 2006, the FDA withdrew ReNu Moisture Loc from B&L after several users reported keratitis fungal infections that are serious and difficult to treat. As a result, B&L settled 600 lawsuits of people affected by this infection.”
Infections are seen as the exception, not the rule.
Dr. Stockermans called infections associated with EzriCare “very unfortunate.”
He also said they undermined consumer confidence in safe, healthy medicines and supplements.
“There is often no way to know in advance that a manufacturer has released a tainted product until it affects a number of consumers 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 extremely rare.”
He added that the best protection against infections or eye diseases is to treat the eyes only with drops that have been prescribed or recommended by a doctor.
Optometrist Juanita Collier, MS, OD, FCOVD offers vision treatment at her 4D Vision Gym office. Cromwell, Conn..
She said eye drops containing preservatives are generally safe to use because the preservatives safely prolong the life of the drop and protect against pathogens. However, she recommends caution with preservative-free brands.
How to know if you have an infection
WITH Allergies and other diseases often causing redness, itching, and watery eyes, it can be difficult to tell when symptoms indicate an infection.
“Bacterial infections are often associated with a sticky discharge and redness, as well as a gritty sensation in the eye, which is known as foreign body sensation (FOS),” says Dr. Stockermans explained.
The doctor said that viral infections are more likely to be associated with watery eyes and FBS, while allergies are more associated with itching, watery eyes and swelling.
Infections can also affect the conjunctiva, the thin, transparent membrane that protects the eye. When it becomes inflamed or infected, it can cause a condition called conjunctivitis, better known as pink eye.
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When the infection affects the cornea (the surface of the front of the eye), it can cause a condition called keratitis, in which the cornea becomes inflamed. Stockermans.
“Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection [associated with EzriCare Artificial Tears] caused a type of keratitis where the infection broke through the surface of the cornea, the doctor said. “This is called a corneal ulcer, which is the most dangerous type of infection discussed and can lead to blindness.”
“One of the most important signs of a serious problem is when red eye is associated with blurred vision or loss of vision.”
Given that infections, allergies, and general sensitivities can all share the same symptoms, it’s always best to check with your eye doctor.
“One of the most important signs of a serious problem is when red eye is associated with Blurred vision or loss of visionDr Stockermans said.
In this case, he recommends contacting the emergency room.
Many eye drops sting slightly on first administration, which is usually not a cause for concern. Collier.
“If eye drops cause severe burning, stop using them and contact your optometrist immediately,” she said.
Tips for Safe Use of Eye Drops
Before using any type of Dr. Stockermans said it was important to make sure the security seal was not broken.
Then check the expiration date and make sure you are using the correct product.
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“I have personally had patients who thought they were using regular eye drops, but instead put superglue in their eyes,” he said.
Dr. Collier advises his patients to never touch the tip of the vial to the eye – no matter what type of drops they use – as it is a major entry point for pathogens and can also scratch the eye.
In addition, dr. Stockermans recommended this safety tip: “When using preservative-free drops, discard the container after use. The contents of foods without preservatives do not kill or inhibit the growth of microbes and can easily become contaminated with an infectious agent.”
For best results with Dr. Stockermans said to sit on a chair, tilt your head back and look up.
Pull the lower eyelid down and drop one drop into the pocket that forms between the eyeball and the lower eyelid.
When using different types of eye drops, he recommends waiting 15 minutes between each application.
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Between uses, eye drops should be stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator as directed on the label.
“Drops exposed to high temperatures may lose their ability to inhibit microbial growth,” says Dr. Stockermans said. “I had a patient with Acanthamoeba keratitis. [a rare but serious infection of the eye] after leaving my contact lens solution in the clothes dryer.”
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Those who are unsure about the safety of eye drops can check the FDA website for notices or recall warnings.
“Most importantly, check with your ophthalmologist before you start applying any drops,” the doctor said. Collier.