FDA Warns Against Using Eyedrops From Major Brands, With Risk Of Eye Infection That Could Lead To Partial Vision Loss Or Blindness

National Eye Institute

If you use eye drops and you have them in your home, you may want to check what brand you use. The FDA has issued a recall of 27 major brands of eye drops that are all manufactured at the same facility. Though there have not been any reports of problems with the eye drops, the FDA discovered unsanitary conditions at the manufacturing facility. There is a possibility that using the recalled eye drops could cause an eye infection and possibly even lead to blindness.

The eye drops that are being recalled are sold under the brand names CVS Health, Rugby, Leader, Rite Aid, Target Up & Up, Velocity Pharma LLC, and Walmart Equate. For a complete list of the eye drops being recalled, refer to the statement from the FDA which can be found here.

According to the FDA, if you have been using these recalled eye drops and have signs of an eye infection or irritation, you should contact your eye doctor immediately.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms of an eye infection include blurry vision, feeling like something is in your eye, discharge from the eye, and eye pain.

If you have these recalled eye drops in your home, experts say to stop using them immediately and dispose of them. To prevent customers from buying the impacted products, many stores, including Target, CVS, and Rite Aid, have pulled the products from their shelves; however, some may still be for sale online.

This is not the first eye drop recall issued by the FDA this year. Earlier in 2023, when another recall was issued, bacteria linked to the recalled eye drops caused the deaths of at least four people, and 18 people lost their vision. Authorities say to take this new recall seriously and stop using any eye drops impacted by this recall.

According to an article published in Bloomberg after the previous recall, the reason we’re seeing recalls with over-the-counter eyedrops is that the FDA is not monitoring over-the-counter medications and products closely enough. Allegedly, the products are not tested or inspected for safety. Companies simply fill out paperwork stating that they are using only ingredients that are approved by the FDA.

Bloomberg’s article explains how the FDA missed an intentional effort to see if they would flag bogus submissions:

In May, the Dry Eye Foundation couldn’t resist one further test of the agency’s guardrails. Petris and Brown set up a company called Ocean Tears LLC, supposedly a maker of eyedrops. They paid about $500 to establish the company and get a Dun & Bradstreet number, a business identifier the FDA software requires from those listing a new OTC product. They found a way to include on the label a made-up proprietary substance as one of the inactive ingredients. The listing sailed through the system.

Emboldened, they invented another drop, calling it Mermaid Tears. Its purpose, they wrote, is “to protect against eye irritation from salt water” and “to allow you to see like a mermaid under water.” Among the warnings on the label, they included this one: “This is a non-preserved drop improperly packaged in a standard eye drop bottle.” Anyone who accidentally swallowed it was advised to seek medical help, ideally at an aquarium.

Petris and Brown didn’t encounter any problems with those eyedrops, either. Then, two months later, after Bloomberg queries, the FDA blocked their bogus company from listing new products. Should they want to manufacture and sell their Mermaid Tears, though, it seemed nobody was going to stop them.

Do you use eye drops? Do you find the lack of testing of over-the-counter medications concerning?