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The influence of topically applied benzalkonium chloride on ocular flare measurements

Submitted by Vincent on Tue, 08/17/2010 - 4:33pm

About 10 years ago I've visited my ophthalmologist for the first time when I suffered from herpes zoster (also known as zona) in the facial area, close to my right eye. It was then, for the first time in my life, my eye pressure was measured. She noticed an elevated eye pressure and asked me whether I had family members suffering from glaucoma (I dont have any btw). We didn't pay much of attention to the IOP at that time as the primary reason for visiting the ophthalmologist was to treat the herpes zoster infection in order to protect the right eye.

About 2 years ago, after not having visited the ophthalmologist for almost 8 years, I went back for a checkup. My IOP measured was 22 left and 23 right. From that moment we decided to closely monitor my IOP and sight, at least 2 to 3 times a year. My chance of developing glaucoma is estimated at 16%. Today, I'm not diagnosed for glaucoma. However my IOP seems to increase as I'm getting older (at this time of writing I'm 40 years young). The highest IOP ever measured (at last year's end) was 23 & 24. In March I was measured 19 & 20, last week Friday I was measured again, 19 & 20. strange, as I expected my IOP to rise over time.

My ophthalmologist is hesitating on starting treatment with eye drops. Normally she's starting treatment at a pressure of 24 but I suspect she's hesitating because of my 'young' age. To be honest I'm not so keen on starting eye drops either. It can cause side effects and on longer term usage, inflammation in the eye (most likely caused by the preservative use in eye drops). She suggested to do an OTC scan in order to check the health condition of the optic nerve and asked me whether I would be prepared to join a scientific research on the influence of topically applied benzalkonium chloride (BAK) on ocular flare measurements.

This would enable the academics to better understand the inconveniences caused to patients on long 'eye drop' treatments. I agreed on participating the research as, next to serving the community, it would give me an insight on how I personally will react on an eye drop treatment.

In the meantime I had my OTC scan, which turned out to be very positive, no damage and the optic nerve is in very good health condition. So I started participation at the research by undergoing a flare scan and an IOP measurement. For the next coming month I have to use eye drops twice a day, one eye with eye drops containing the preservative BAC, the other eye without the preservative. At the end of the research period we will do another flare scan and IOP measurement in order to evaluate the results.

I will keep you posted.....

In the meantime, keep up the good work on this site! It is very informative and interesting to read how IOP is influenced and how one can manage and control it's IOP through self tonometry. I'm very curious to learn more about it!




Update  - 20 February2011

Well,... after having taken Cosopt for one month I got the result. No clear indication of inflammation found on the eye using the drops containing the preservative BAC. IOP lowered to 16-17.
After the trial I didn't continue taking Cosopt or any other eye drups. In December last year I went back to the ophthalmologist for my vision test and IOP measurement (twice a year). IOP measured 21-22. Vision was perfect, no indication of glaucoma yet. I'm still not using any medicine.
Hope to pick up here some more advice on naturally controlling IOP and perhaps consider self tonometry.




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