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Eur J Pharm Biopharm. 1999 Mar;47(2):105-12.

Ocular tolerance of preservatives on the murine cornea.

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  • 1Section of Pharmacy, University of Lausanne, Switzerland.


We investigated the effects of instilling 13 commonly used preservatives on the murine cornea in vivo. Due to the instillation of preservatives, micro-lesions are formed on the cornea and can be selectively marked by fluorescein. The sum of the resulting fluorescent areas was measured using an episcopic microscope coupled to an image processing system. All the tested preservatives proved to be well-tolerated by the eye at commonly used concentrations. However, in some cases, increased concentrations of preservatives or combinations resulted in significant increase of the amount of corneal damage. With increasing the concentration, corneal lesion increased the most in the case of cetylpyridinium. While a combination of chlorobutanol 0.5% and phenylethylalcohol 0.5% did not result in an increase in corneal damage (when compared to the use of each separately), the associations of thiomersal 0.02% and phenylethylalcohol 0.4% on one hand and of edetate disodium (EDTA) 0.1% and benzalkonium 0.01% on the other, resulted in significant increases in the amount of corneal damage. However, in none of the tested combinations, the increase in the observed damage exceed the limit of ocular intolerance we had defined beforehand: thus, they were all deemed relatively well-tolerated. In the last part of the study, we investigated the effects of combining several preservatives, at usual concentrations, with an anesthetic solution of oxybuprocaine and found no notable increase in ocular damage.

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