Close-up of eye drop bottle showing a drip with a white background

FDA eye drop recall: Don’t use these CVS, Rite Aid, Walmart and Target brands

Dozens of products are associated with a risk of eye infections that could result in partial vision loss or blindness

Update: On Nov. 15, 2023, the FDA announced Kilitch Healthcare India Limited is voluntarily recalling 27 eye drop products sold in the U.S. due to a risk of infection. You can see the full list here.

(SACRAMENTO)

The FDA is warning consumers to immediately stop using 27 over-the-counter eye drop products due to the potential risk of eye infections that could result in partial vision loss or blindness. This new eye drop recall follows recalls earlier this year.

The over-the-counter lubricating drops are sold by CVS, Rite Aid, Target, Walmart, Leader, Rugby and Velocity Pharma.

The complete list of recalled eye drops is available below and on the FDA website.

The FDA recalled the products after its investigators found unsanitary conditions in the manufacturing facility and bacteria after testing environmental samples of critical drug production areas.

The FDA has not received reports of eye infections associated with these products as of this writing.

Multiple FDA eye drop recalls

Gary D. Novack, a clinical professor at UC Davis Health, said that the FDA has been particularly vigilant on eye drop enforcement issues this year, with multiple recalls. Novack is a clinical pharmacologist with experience in ophthalmic product development.

Asked if eye drops are more vulnerable to contamination than other over-the-counter products, Novack explained that “ophthalmologic products need to be sterile, which is not true of oral and dermatological products.”

Novack also noted that over-the-counter eye drops have a different regulatory process than prescription products. “All the eye drops in this current recall are over-the-counter products. Prescription eye drop products should not be affected,” Novack said.

He noted that people should not be afraid of using eye drops. “All of these recalled eye drops should be off the shelves by now. Eye drops are sterile and safe to use. In particular, continue using your prescription eye drops as your doctor prescribed them,” Novack said. “If in doubt, ask your pharmacist if the product has been recalled.”

He recommends people who use over-the-counter drops check their brand against the recall list.

If you have any of the recalled brands, stop using them. “Using contaminated drops increases the risk of eye infection,” Novack said.

Lubricating drops mainstay treatment for dry eyes

Lubricating eye drops, also known as artificial tears, are the mainstay treatment for dry eye disease, according to Jeffrey H. Ma, an ophthalmologist at the UC Davis Eye Center.

“Dry eye disease is one of the most common eye diseases and can cause irritation, grittiness, redness, burning, tearing and blurred vision. Artificial tears can help with these symptoms,” Ma explained.

He notes that patients should always pay attention to recalls like those announced this year by the FDA.

But they don’t need to stop using all eye drops, which are safe when used correctly.

For his patients, he recommends preservative-free drops that come in disposable single-use vials. “So long as people use this product only once, in one or both eyes and discard, preservative-free drops are safe and a great option for dry eyes,” Ma said. “They tend to be gentle on the eyes and can be used more frequently throughout the day.”

How to avoid eye infections

Not using recalled products is important for preventing eye infections.

But there are a variety of more common ways people get eye infections. These are also important to know about, according to Ma.

“Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, is the most common type of eye infection,” Ma said. He specializes in ocular surface diseases — diseases that damage the surface layers of the eye.

“Conjunctivitis is usually viral or bacterial. It is typically transmitted through direct contact, such as touching or rubbing your eyes after touching a contaminated item.”

Because it’s easy to spread, people who are in close proximity to someone with pink eye are also at risk of getting an eye infection. Ma suggests being diligent about washing hands frequently, especially before touching your face or eyes.

Contact lens wearers at increased risk of infection

Another common source of eye infections are contact lenses. “Contact lens wearers are at increased risk of developing infections of the cornea, or corneal ulcer, especially if they sleep with their lenses in,” Ma said.

Infections can be avoided by keeping the lens case clean (and replacing it when needed), washing your hands often (especially before touching your contacts), and taking contacts out before you go to bed.

Less common eye infections are those spread from other parts of the body.

“Certain viral infections, such as herpes simplex virus and varicella zoster virus, the virus that causes chickenpox and shingles, remain dormant in our body after prior infection and can reactivate in the eye,” Ma said.

Symptoms of eye infections

Common symptoms of an eye infection include:

  • blurry vision
  • discharge
  • pain or discomfort
  • redness of the eyelid or eye
  • feeling like there is something in the eye
  • increased sensitivity to light

“If you have any of these symptoms and they are not improving or getting worse, please make an appointment to see an eye care professional,” Ma said.

Recall listed updated Oct. 31, 2023. See the FDA website for the latest updates.

Eye Drop Retailers and Product Information

Retailer/ Label

Product

Product Information

CVS Health

Lubricant Eye Drops 15 ml (single pack)

Carboxymethylcellulose Sodium Eye Drops 0.5% w/v

Lubricant Eye Drops 15 ml (twin pack)

Carboxymethylcellulose Sodium Eye Drops 0.5% w/v

Lubricant Gel Drops 15 ml (single pack) 

Carboxymethylcellulose Sodium Eye Drops 1% w/v

Lubricant Gel Drops 15 ml (twin pack)

Carboxymethylcellulose Sodium Eye Drops 1% w/v

Multi-Action Relief Drops 15 ml

Polyvinyl Alcohol 0.5% w/v & Povidone 0.6% w/v & Tetrahydrozoline Hydrochloride 0.05% Eye Drops

Lubricating Gel drops 10 ml

Polyethylene Glycol 400 0.4% & Propylene Glycol 0.3% Eye Drops

Lubricant Eye Drops 10 ml (single pack)

Propylene Glycol Eye Drops 0.6% w/v

Lubricant Eye Drops 10 ml (twin pack)

Propylene Glycol Eye Drops 0.6% w/v

Mild Moderate Lubricating Eye Drops 15 ml (single pack) 

Polyethylene Glycol 400 Eye Drop '0.25% w/v

Rugby (Cardinal Health)

Lubricating Tears Eye Drops 15 ml    

Hypromellose 2910-0.3% w/v & Dextran 70- 0.1% Eye Drops

Polyvinyl Alcohol 1.4% Lubricating Eye Drops 15 ml

Polyvinyl Alcohol Eye Drops 1.4% w/v

Leader (Cardinal Health)

Dry Eye Relief 10 ml

Polyethylene Glycol 400 0.4% & Propylene Glycol 0.3% Eye Drops

Lubricant Eye Drops 15 ml (single pack)

Carboxymethylcellulose Sodium Eye Drops 0.5% w/v

Lubricant Eye Drops 15 ml (twin pack)

Carboxymethylcellulose Sodium Eye Drops 0.5% w/v

Dry Eye Relief 15 ml

Carboxymethylcellulose Sodium Eye Drops 1% w/v

Eye Irritation Relief 15 ml

Polyvinyl Alcohol 0.5% w/v & Povidone 0.6% w/v & Tetrahydrozoline Hydrochloride 0.05% Eye Drops

Rite Aid

Lubricant Eye Drops 15 ml (twin pack)

Carboxymethylcellulose Sodium Eye Drops 0.5% w/v

Lubricant Eye Drops 10 ml (twin pack)

Propylene Glycol Eye Drops 0.6% w/v

Gentle Lubricant Gel Eye Drops 15 ml

Hypromellose 0.3%, Glycerin 0.2%, Dextran 70 0.1% Eye Drops

Lubricant Gel Drops 15 ml

Carboxymethylcellulose Sodium Eye Drops 1% w/v

Lubricating Gel Drops 10 ml

Polyethylene Glycol 400 0.4% & Propylene Glycol 0.3% Eye Drops

Multi-Action Relief Drops 15 ml

Polyvinyl Alcohol 0.5% w/v & Povidone 0.6% w/v & Tetrahydrozoline Hydrochloride 0.05% Eye Drops

Target

Up&Up Dry Eye Relief Lubricant Eye Drops 30 ml

Polyethylene Glycol 400 0.4% & Propylene Glycol 0.3% Eye Drops

Up&Up Extreme Relief Dry Eye 15 ml (single pack)

Polyethylene Glycol 400 0.4% & Propylene Glycol 0.3% Eye Drops

Up&Up Extreme Relief Dry Eye 30 ml (twin pack)

 Carboxymethylcellulose Sodium Eye Drops 0.5% w/v

Velocity Pharma LLC

Lubricant Eye Drop 10 ml (triple pack)

Propylene Glycol Eye Drops 0.6% w/v

Walmart

Equate Hydration PF Lubricant Eye Drop 10 ml

Polyethylene Glycol 400 0.4% & Propylene Glycol 0.3% Eye Drops

 

The UC Davis Eye Center provides world-class eye care, pioneers collaborative vision research, and trains the next generation of specialists and investigators to become leaders in the Sacramento region and beyond. The Eye Center team aims to transform vision care and develop cures for blinding eye diseases, from cornea to cortex.