A Cluster of Corneal Donor Rim Cultures Positive for Achromobacter Species Associated With Contaminated Eye Solution

Cornea. 2021 Feb 1;40(2):223-227. doi: 10.1097/ICO.0000000000002473.


Purpose: To investigate a cluster of corneoscleral rim cultures positive for Achromobacter species over a 6-month period at Massachusetts Eye and Ear.

Methods: An increased rate of positive corneal donor rim cultures was noted at Massachusetts Eye and Ear between July and December 2017. Positive cultures were subjected to identification and antimicrobial susceptibility testing by phenotypic (MicroScan WalkAway) and genotypic (16S rDNA sequencing) methods. Samples of the eye wash solution (GeriCare) used in the eye bank were also evaluated. Antimicrobial activity of Optical-GS against Achromobacter spp. at 4°C and 37°C was assessed by time-kill kinetics assay.

Results: Of 99 donor rims cultured, 14 (14.1%) grew bacteria with 11 (78.6%) due to uncommon nonfermenting Gram-negative bacilli. These had been identified by standard automated methods as Achromobacter (n = 3), Alcaligenes (n = 3), Ralstonia (n = 2), Pseudomonas (n = 2), and Stenotrophomonas (n = 1). Eight of these 11 isolates were subsequently available for molecular identification, and all were identified as Achromobacter spp. Six bottles of eyewash solution were evaluated and were positive for abundant Achromobacter spp. (3.4 × 105 ± 1.1 CFU/mL). Optisol-GS had no bactericidal activity against Achromobacter spp. at 4°C after 24-hour incubation but was bactericidal at 37°C. None of the patients who had received the contaminated corneas developed postoperative infection.

Conclusions: An eyewash solution arising from a single lot was implicated in the contamination of donor rims by Achromobacter spp. The isolates were able to survive in the Optisol-GS medium at the recommended storage temperature. This highlights the need to continue improving protocols for tissue preparation and storage.

MeSH terms

  • Achromobacter / genetics
  • Achromobacter / isolation & purification*
  • Bacteriological Techniques
  • DNA, Ribosomal / genetics
  • Drug Contamination*
  • Eye Banks / methods
  • Humans
  • Keratoplasty, Penetrating
  • Limbus Corneae / microbiology*
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Ophthalmic Solutions*
  • Organ Preservation Solutions*
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Tissue Donors
  • Tissue and Organ Harvesting


  • DNA, Ribosomal
  • Ophthalmic Solutions
  • Organ Preservation Solutions
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S