The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning consumers not to buy or use over-the-counter eye drops because they can cause eye infections that can lead to partial vision loss or blindness.
Investigators found unsanitary conditions at a manufacturing facility and the presence of bacteria in “critical drug production areas of the facility.” The FDA says eye medications pose a higher risk because they can bypass some of the body’s natural defenses.
Most of the affected products are lubricating drops, but also include dry eye and irritation relief drops sold under the following brand names: CVS Health, Leader (Cardinal Health), Rugby (Cardinal Health), Rite Aid, Target Up&Up, Velocity Pharma is equivalent to Walmart.
Although CVS, Rite Aid, Target and Walmart have pulled their products from store shelves, the FDA said eye drops under the Leader, Rugby and Velocity brands are still available.
The agency has not received any reports of eye infections related to these products. In August, similar warnings were issued about two brands of eye drops that were contaminated with bacteria, fungi, or both. In September, the FDA warned eight companies, including CVS and Walgreens, for selling unapproved drugs to treat conjunctivitis, cataracts and glaucoma. Please see the complete product list included in the FDA Consumer Safety Alert.
Any adverse events or quality issues with any drug should be reported to FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting Program online through MedWatch or fax this form to 1-800.-FDA-0178.
Symptoms of eye infection
Most eye infections begin with discomfort, redness, and itching; this occurs when microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, or fungi enter the eye. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the most common eye infection is conjunctivitis.
In the United States, approximately 1 million people are treated for eye infections each year.
Early symptoms may include red, itchy, eye pain, watering, and swelling. Late symptoms may include eye discharge, sensitivity to light, blurred vision and fever.
Patients who develop symptoms of eye infection after using the above products should consult their healthcare provider or seek immediate medical attention.