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N L Burstein, S D Klyce; Electrophysiologic and morphologic effects of ophthalmic preparations on rabbit cornea epithelium.. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 1977;16(10):899-911.
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The effects of several components of ophthalmic preparations on isolated rabbit cornea were studied by continuous electrophysiologic monitoring followed by fixation for scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Benzalkonium chloride (0.001 percent), thimerosal (0.0004 percent), and amphotericin B (0.0025 percent) all briefly increased ion transport, then greatly decreased epithelial resistance. Severe disruption of surface cell layers occurred simultaneously with resistance decrease. Silver nitrate (0.00017 percent) stimulated transport with less accompanying morphologic damage. Tetracaine (0.05 percent) disrupted epithelial function and caused exfoliation of several cell layers. Chlorobutanol (0.1 percent) produced a nearly complete loss of the squamous cell layer. Chloramphenicol, epinephrine, and pilocarpine produced minor changes in structure and electrophysiology at full clinical concentration. It was concluded that low concentrations of preservatives in ophthalmic preparations disrupt the barrier and transport properties of the corneal epithelium.
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