South Florida grandmother claims eyedrops caused blindness

Eyedrops recalled by drug maker

MIAMI – A South Florida grandmother is adjusting to life after a bacterial infection took her right eye.

“I’ve always been independent,” said Clara Oliva in Spanish. “I’ve always worked. My life has changed 1000%.”

In May 2022, she started using EzriCare artificial tears, an over-the-counter product, to alleviate dry eyes caused by her contact lenses.

In the four months that followed, an aggressive infection took hold. She sought treatment from her doctor almost immediately, but nothing worked and all the while she continued using the drops, never knowing there were concerns.

“She was actually getting the treatment with antibiotics while still using the drops,” said one of her attorneys, Natasha Cortes with the law firm of Grossman Roth Yaffa Cohen. “She got her eye removed (and) was still using the drops once they put the prosthetic in. It was only in January when she was first alerted not to use the drops anymore.”

While several doctors worked to treat the infection, the CDC and FDA were looking into complaints surrounding the eyedrops. It ultimately leads the drug maker, Global Pharma, to issue a recall.

The FDA cited concerns over potential contamination.

CDC on Feb. 1: Outbreak of Extensively Drug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa Associated with Artificial Tears

FDA on Feb. 27: FDA warns consumers not to purchase or use EzriCare Artificial Tears due to potential contamination

“The CDC collected ‘lots’ that were distributed across the world from May 2022 to January 2023,” said Ryan Yaffa with Grossman Roth Yaffa Cohen. “They found that it was contaminated with this extremely drug-resistant pathogen.”

The CDC linked the eyedrops to infections across the country. Doctors were forced to remove Oliva’s right eye in order to save her other eye, which had poor vision, to begin with. It has now left her legally blind.

“The concern is getting the word out to make sure people who have this product in their possession at this time don’t continue using it,” said Yaffa.

Oliva and her attorneys are seeking legal remedies as officials continue to investigate dozens of other cases reported across the country.

About the Author:

Andrew Perez is a South Florida native who joined the Local 10 News team in May 2014.