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Eye Care (cont.)

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What inactive ingredients are contained in OTC eye care products?

Most eye care products contain ingredients that have no therapeutic value. If an individual has a known sensitivity to one or more of these ingredients, then products containing them should be avoided.

Vehicles: An ophthalmic vehicle is added to a product to enhance drug action by increasing the viscosity (thickness) of the product. Examples of ophthalmic vehicles are Dextran 70, gelatin, glycerin, poloxamer 407, and propylene glycol.

Preservatives: Preservatives are included to destroy or limit growth of bacteria that may be introduced into the product during repeated use. Examples of ophthalmic preservatives are benzalkonium chloride (BAK), cetylpyridinium chloride, chlorobutanol, methylparaben, sodium benzoate, and sorbic acid. To avoid allergies, many ophthalmic products are preservative free.

Excipients: An excipient is a substance that is added to provide physical form to the product, make it less irritating to the eye, or to preserve the ingredients within the product. Useful ophthalmic excipients are antioxidants, wetting agents, buffers, and tonicity adjusters.

Medically reviewed by William Baer, MD; Board Certified Ophthalmology


Braunwald, Eugene, et al. Harrisons's Principles of Internal Medicine. 15th ed. McGraw-Hill, 2001.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/16/2014

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