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Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 1991 Oct;32(11):2958-63.

Effects of acetylcysteine on rabbit conjunctival and corneal surfaces. A scanning electron microscopy study.

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  • 1Centre de Recherche, Merck Sharp & Dohme-Chibret, Riom, France.


Conjunctival and corneal epithelial surfaces of normal rabbit eyes with their associated mucus were studied by scanning electron microscopy before and after treatment with the mucolytic agent N-acetylcysteine (AC). Four groups received topically one 50-microliters drop of either (Group A) 0.1 MAC, (Group B) 0.1 M AC every 5 min for 1 hr, (Group C) 0.1 M AC every 5 min for 2 hr, or (Group D) three drops of 20% AC over 15 min. The effects of the instillation of AC on mucus removal and cellular lesions increased in the order (A) less than (B) less than (C) less than (D). Treatment A had no effect on cornea and conjunctiva. Treatment B cleaned away mucosal debris without alteration of either conjunctival or corneal epithelium. Treatment C had a similar effect on the mucus but was associated with focal necrosis, and treatment D produced widespread necrosis, desquamation of epithelial cells, and inflammation.

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