Allergy to Ophthalmic Preservatives

Jison Hong; Leonard Bielory


Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009;9(5):447-453. 

In This Article


Many topical ophthalmic agents use preservatives as they are designed for 'multiuse' treatment regimens. Many clinicians commonly refer to the induction of the signs and symptoms of itchy, burning, gritty (dolor), red (rubor), and swollen (tumor) as an 'allergy'. In actuality, it appears that many of these forms of 'allergic conjunctivitis' are associated with the continuous administration of the preservative in constant contact with the conjunctival surface and not a true allergy to the drug. Preservatives are present in almost all ophthalmic preparations and play an important role as they may cause adverse side effects, from mild irritation to severe toxic reactions. Continued study on the effects of these preservatives and other inactive ingredients is important to ensure that the therapeutic result of the ophthalmic preparations is not diminished by the adverse effects that preservatives may produce in the patient.