A fire captain says he lost vision in one eye within hours of using over-the-counter eye drops linked to drug-resistant bacteria

Man using eye drops
A man (not pictured) said he lost vision in one eye after using EzriCare Artificial Tears eye drops, which have been linked to drug-resistant bacterial eye infections.RUBEN BONILLA GONZALO/Getty Images
  • Adam Di Sarro said he lost vision in one eye a few hours after using EzriCare Artificial Tears.

  • Di Sarro told CBS News that he's been out of work for five months following the incident.

  • EzriCare eye drops were recalled in February after being linked to vision loss.

A fire captain in Florida said he experienced vision loss in his left eye after using EzriCare Artificial Tears, which have been linked to a drug-resistant bacterial eye infection.

Adam Di Sarro of Naples told CBS News he used artificial tears for years to treat dryness in his left eye, but he experienced issues for the first time in the fall of 2022.

Di Sarro brought a products liability lawsuit against Ezricare LLC and Amazon (where he purchased the drops), among other pharmaceutical companies, in February. As of March 20, the case is dismissed without prejudice, meaning Di Sarro may be able to refile his claim. Representatives for EzriCare and Amazon, and Di Sarro's attorneys, did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

In the complaint filed to a Florida federal court on February 23, and reviewed by Insider, Di Sarro's attorneys said their client experienced "irritation, swelling, extreme pain and discomfort in the eyes and skull, sensitivity to light, blurred vision, and ultimately blindness in his left eye" after using the eye drops, purchased through Amazon.

"The redness came on, the irritation came on, a lot of itching, and it was abnormal," Di Sarro told CBS News. "It just progressively got worse, to the point where I couldn't even see within a few hours."

In the complaint, Di Sarro's attorneys said their client was reffered to the Bascom-Palmer Eye Institute in Miami, where eye specialists identified his condition to be caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which can cause infections in the blood, in the lungs, or in wounds, and is becoming more difficult to treat as it evolves defense mechanisms against antibiotics. Testing of the EzriCare eye drops Di Sarro used found that "the bottles were contaminated with a heavy growth of" the bacterium, the complaint said.

In October, Di Sarro underwent treatment at the Bascom-Palmer Eye Institute in the form of experimental light therapy and fortified eye drops, which eventually eradicated the infection in his left eye, according to the complaint.

Still, Di Sarro "continues to suffer from left eye disfigurement, headaches, dizziness, blindness to his left eye, and emotional distress," according to the complaint.

Di Sarro told CBS News he has been out of work "going on five months."

Stock Image of Eye drops
As of March 14, the CDC said eight people have experienced vision loss in one or both eyes. following an outbreak of bacterial eye infections linked to the recalled eye drops.Andreas Schlegel/Getty Images

India-based manufacturer Global Pharma Healthcare recalled EzriCare Artificial Tears in February after the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the drops could be contaminated with drug-resistant bacteria. The recommendation came after the CDC received reports of "permanent vision loss" due to eye infections and one death caused by a bloodstream infection.

At the time, the CDC said 55 patients across 12 states had tested positive for a strain of Pseudomonas aeruginosa that hadn't been detected in the US before. Most patients told the CDC they used EzriCare Artificial Tears. The CDC and the FDA also cautioned that people avoid Delsam Pharma's Artificial Tearswhich was recalled in February.

In March, the CDC reported that three people have died following an outbreak of bacterial eye infections linked to the recalled eye drops. As of March 14, the multistate outbreak has affected 68 people in 16 states, with eight people losing vision in one or both eyes, and four had their eyeballs surgically removed.

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