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October 30, 2023

Eye drops sold at Target, CVS and Rite Aid may cause infections, FDA says

Federal health officials are advising people to discard 26 products that were manufactured in an unsanitary facility

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Eye Drops FDA Warning Karolina Grabowska/Pexels

Twenty-six eye drop products sold at major retailers like CVS, Rite Aid and Target may cause eye infections because they were manufactured in an unsanitary facility, the FDA says.

Dozens of over-the-counter eye drop products sold at major retailers may cause serious eye infections that result in partial vision loss or blindness, according to a new warning issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The 26 eye drop and gel products included in the FDA warning are marketed under the following brands: CVS Health, Leader (Cardinal Health), Rugby (Cardinal Health), Rite Aid, Target Up&Up and Velocity Pharma. The FDA urges people not to purchase these products and to immediately stop using them.

Last week, FDA investigators found unsanitary conditions in the manufacturing facility for the products and positive bacterial tests in "critical" drug production areas. The FDA recommended the manufacturer recall all batches, and for consumers to properly discard them.

Eye drops are intended to be sterile, because drugs applied directly to the eyes bypass some of the body's natural defenses.

Eye infections are caused by a microorganism, like a bacterium, virus or a fungus. Signs and symptoms of eye infections include redness, irritation, pain and discharge. Eye infections can range in seriousness, with severe cases leading to vision loss. 

People who experience symptoms of an eye infection after using any of the products flagged by the FDA are advised to seek medical care immediately.

CVS, Rite Aid and Target are removing the products from store shelves and their websites, according to the FDA. Leader, Rugby and Velocity brand eye drops still may be available to purchase in stores and online, but the FDA advised people not to purchase them.

The FDA has not yet received reports of eye infections associated with the eye drop products. Health care professionals and patients can report adverse issues with medicine to the FDA.

Earlier this year, another eye drop product — EzriCare Artificial Tears — was recalled after causing an outbreak of a bacterial infection that sickened dozens of people. Three people died, and eight experienced vision loss. The Global Pharma Healthcare facility in India, where the recalled eye drops were produced, was cited for sanitation violations by the FDA.

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