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J Ocul Pharmacol Ther. 2014 Mar-Apr;30(2-3):163-9. doi: 10.1089/jop.2013.0174. Epub 2013 Nov 8.

Benzalkonium chloride and glaucoma.

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  • 1Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences, School of Medicine & Public Health, University of Wisconsin-Madison , Madison, Wisconsin.

Abstract

Glaucoma patients routinely take multiple medications, with multiple daily doses, for years or even decades. Benzalkonium chloride (BAK) is the most common preservative in glaucoma medications. BAK has been detected in the trabecular meshwork (TM), corneal endothelium, lens, and retina after topical drop installation and may accumulate in those tissues. There is evidence that BAK causes corneal and conjunctival toxicity, including cell loss, disruption of tight junctions, apoptosis and preapoptosis, cytoskeleton changes, and immunoinflammatory reactions. These same effects have been reported in cultured human TM cells exposed to concentrations of BAK found in common glaucoma drugs and in the TM of primary open-angle glaucoma donor eyes. It is possible that a relationship exists between chronic exposure to BAK and glaucoma. The hypothesis that BAK causes/worsens glaucoma is being tested experimentally in an animal model that closely reflects human physiology.

PMID:
24205938
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3991986
Free PMC Article
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