28 November 2023

Member alert: Bacterial infection linked with specific batches of carbomer eye gel

There have been reported cases of novel cluster of Burkholderia cenocepacia with suspected links to specific batches of carbomer containing ocular lubricant gel.

An early investigation of a cluster of 20 cases of Burkholderia cenocepacia infection by the UKHSA has identified a potential association between this type of bacteria and specific batches of three brands of carbomer containing ocular lubricants gels. While the results are not conclusive at this stage, investigations are ongoing and as a precaution against potential risk of contamination the manufacturer (Indiana Ophthalmics LLP) has issued a product specific recall for the following brands:

  • AaCarb eye gel (labelled with distributor name: Trion Pharma)
  • Aacomer eye gel (Essential-Healthcare)
  • Puroptics eye gel (Biovantic Pharma)

Details of the affected batches are included in the online notice.

This means all practices that stock any of the products identified in the notice should stop supplying them to patients and ensure they are quarantined and returned via the suppliers approved process. Where possible, if practices are aware they have supplied patients with these products, they should be contacted to stop using them and return them to the practice. Where clinically indicated, alternative products should be advised as appropriate on case by case basis. 

While the risk of infection in the general population is very low, the UKHSA has also advised that until further information becomes available, clinicians should avoid recommending any carbomer containing ocular lubricant gels in the following higher risk groups:

  • individuals with cystic fibrosis
  • critical care patients
  • severely immunocompromised patients
  • patients awaiting lung transplantation.

Further, clinicians should be vigilant of any unusual signs or symptoms in patients using carbomer containing ocular lubricant gels, and report any suspected concerns to their nation’s incident reporting system for adverse drug events.   

If members have any queries relating to this product recall please contact our clinical advice team.

Related further reading

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It has been over 15 years since prescribing rights were granted to optometrists, writes Dr Paramdeep Bilkhu MCOptom, Clinical Adviser for the College. How has this affected clinical practice and patient outcomes?

Which elements are key to the process of shared decision-making between clinician and patient? Georgina Wintersgill reports.