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Toxic effects of preservatives in drops -- I'm a believer!

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  • Toxic effects of preservatives in drops -- I'm a believer!

    In the last two years I have had 5 eye surgeries, 4 laser procedures -- and, had been experiencing dry eye before the surgeries and procedures. Over the past several years I have used MANY eye drops -- most precribed by my eye doctor, such as Pred-forte, Lotemax, etc., etc. I am now suffering from extreme dry eye, and what appears to be a disorder of the cornea which results in extreme glare, light sensitivity, halos, starbursts -- and, I could go on. I am now of the belief that my current problems are the result of the toxicity of preservatives --primarily Benzalkonium Chloride (also known as BAK or BAC), and Edetic acid (EDTA, di)sodium edetate). If I had read the information a couple of years ago, from the web site below, I believe my eye sight would not be the mess it is today. My doctor, who is an excellent surgeon, not once warned me about the possible toxic effects from preservatives. He still does not understand why I am having the symptoms I am having. I suggest everyone read this web site, and make decisions accordingly. Do not rely on your doctor.

  • #2
    I'm totally with you on the toxic effects particularly of BAK. At the same time however, you've clearly got a lot more going on than preservative toxicity effects, since as you said you've had a lot of surgery and you had dry eye (I think you have mentioned MGD in other posts) even prior to the surgeries. Dry eye is complex and multifactorial, as so many of us can attest to. It's because of this in fact that we all have to be particularly vigilant about BAK because of how it can worsen things for us.

    My doctor, who is an excellent surgeon, not once warned me about the possible toxic effects from preservatives....Do not rely on your doctor.
    I would like to suggest taking this in a positive direction. We can help educate our doctors. If we do not approach them in an accusatory manner - if we make it clear we are trying to be helpful - I believe that in many cases at least, we'll find them willing to listen. I get a lot of calls from people who have been on BAK-preserved glaucoma meds for years and years, have gradually been developing severe dry eye, and whose glaucoma doc apparently has no sensitivity to the issue. I often find myself coaching them on how to go back to the doctor, explain that you're really concerned about the medical literature showing the toxic effects of BAK and ask for alternatives. If the patient shows sensitivity to the doctor's desire to make sure they're treating the patient right (e.g. with glaucoma, the doc's top priority is to keep the pressure down) they typically find the doctor willing to try out alternatives like Travatan Z or others.

    If the doctor is entirely unwilling to listen despite sincere efforts, time for a new doc. The evidence of cytotoxicity is simply overwhelming.
    Rebecca Petris
    The Dry Eye Foundation


    • #3

      I agree with you -- thanks for your post. Yes, I do have other things going on with my eyes. But, that being said, I had them pretty much under control using Dr Latkany's techniques. I believe the problem, and you said it well, comes about when your doctor is not sensitive to the effects of preservatives on eyes that already have a problem. I plan to see Dr. Tseng in June, but would love to find a Dr. closer to home (Denver) who is an expert in ocular surface disease. As I said in my earlier post, my Dr. is an excellent surgeon -- but I seem to be educating him on my ocular surface problems. He's shooting from the hip, I believe. I need a Dr. who can accurately diagnose my problem, and put me on a treatment plan. I realize ocular surface problems are complicated -- I've been researching the problems and treatments for over 2 years, and there is so much to learn. I gave my surgeon Dr. Latkany's book to help get him up to speed. I've been to 4 eye doctors so far, and I know more about ocular surface problems than the 4 of them combined. That just doesn't make sense to me.

      Thanks for moderating a superb forum.



      • #4
        Not all preservatives are alike

        I want to add that not all preservatives have a negative effect on eyes. I became hypersenstive to the preservatives in the major brands of drugstore drops after using them for two years. I switched to PF drops for another two years before I tried samples of NutraTear and Dakrina. I'm delighted that I have no negative reaction to the preservative in Doc Holly's drops, and it's a pleasure not to have to deal with single-use vials anymore.