Hydroxypropyl Cellulose (Ophthalmic)


When patients have an insufficient tear production, their eyes are not well-lubricated and they can experience a range of uncomfortable symptoms. Reduced tear flow is often the cause of irritated or dry eyes and patients may also report a feeling of grittiness in their eyes.

Various conditions, such as corneal erosions, keratoconjunctivitis sicca, decreased corneal sensitivity and keratitis, can all cause patients to suffer from reduced tear flow. By applying Hydroxypropyl cellulose, however, lubrication in the eye can be replaced and their symptoms can be reduced.

As well as minimizing uncomfortable symptoms, Hydroxypropyl cellulose can be used to protect the eye. As tear production and subsequent lubrication enable the eye to function properly and provide some protection from external irritants, a lack of tear flow can increase the patient's risk of injury to the eye and may increase their risk of developing additional eye conditions. By using Hydroxypropyl cellulose, however, the patient's eyes are well-lubricated and have the same protection as if their natural tear production was working effectively.

In addition to this, Hydroxypropyl cellulose can be used by patients who use artificial eyes. As these patients often need to use lubrication when fitting an artificial eye or to increase their comfort, Hydroxypropyl cellulose can be used to increase tear production and tear flow.

Whilst some patients will only need to use Hydroxypropyl cellulose for a short time, this medicine can also be used as a longer term solution to on-going tear flow problems. If the patient's tear production has been permanently reduced, for example, they may need to use Hydroxypropyl cellulose on a long-term basis in order to protect their eyes and prevent uncomfortable or painful symptoms from arising.

Conditions Treated

  • Dry, irritated eyes
  • Reduced tear production or tear flow

Type Of Medicine

  • Lubricant

Side Effects

When patients use prescription medication, they may notice some side-effects occurring. This may be more likely to happen when they first start using a medicine as side-effects often diminish over time. When patients first starting using Hydroxypropyl cellulose, for example, they may experience the following side-effects:

  • Watering of the eyes
  • Matting of the eyelashes
  • Swelling of the eyelids
  • Blurred vision
  • Increased sensitivity of the eyes to light
  • Eye discomfort, irritation or redness which was not present before using this medication

If the above side-effects are fairly mild and are reduced over time, patients may not require medical intervention. However, if the side-effects are severe, on-going or worsen over time, patients should seek medical attention.

If patients experience additional side-effects which are not listed above, they can also report them to the Food and Drug Administration on 1-800-FDA-1088. This enables the FDA to keep accurate and up-to-date records regarding the side-effects caused by certain medications.


When patients are prescribed Hydroxypropyl cellulose, they will be shown how to use the medication and told how often to administer it. Generally, patients are advised to put one insert into each affected per day.

As Hydroxypropyl cellulose is administered via an eye insert, it's important that patients are shown how to administer it before they attempt to do it themselves. Patients should also be given a medication guide along with their medicine and this should contain clear and thorough usage instructions.

Patients should wash their hands thoroughly before opening the packaging or applying the insert. If the insert becomes dislodged or falls out throughout the day, patients should not attempt to re-insert it into the eye. Doing so could result in germs coming into contact with the eye and the patient would risk contamination. If necessary, patients can use another insert if they need to replace one which has become dislodged.

If patients forget to administer Hydroxypropyl cellulose in the morning, they can place an insert in their eye(s) later in the day. However, if patients are unsure how to administer this medicine, they should seek help from their ophthalmologist or pharmacist.

Potential Drug Interactions

Before patients begin using Hydroxypropyl cellulose, they should tell their physician if they are using any other medicines. This includes prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins and/or supplements.

As some drugs interact with each other, Hydroxypropyl cellulose may not be appropriate if patients are using other types of medication. By disclosing their medication usage to their physician, patients can ensure that Hydroxypropyl cellulose is safe for them to use.

In addition to this, patients should obtain medical advice before using any new medicines, supplements or vitamins once they have started to use Hydroxypropyl cellulose.


When patients are prescribed Hydroxypropyl cellulose, they should tell their physician if they have any existing medical conditions or if they are due to undergo any medical tests or procedures. This may affect the use of Hydroxypropyl cellulose so it's important that doctors are aware of their patient's full medical history.

Hydroxypropyl cellulose inserts can cause the patient to experience blurred vision. In most cases, this only occurs for a short period of time after the insert has been placed in the eye. However, patients should not operate machinery or drive until this side-effect has subsided.

During treatment with Hydroxypropyl cellulose inserts, patients may need to consult with their physician regularly. This will enable the patient's doctor to ensure that the medication is working well and that it is not having any unwanted or harmful effects.

When patients are using Hydroxypropyl cellulose inserts, they may notice that their eyes are more sensitive to light than they were previously. Patients should avoid exposure to bright lights when possible and use sunglasses to minimize this side-effect.

If patients experience any new eye-related symptoms or notice their existing symptoms getting worse, they should remove the Hydroxypropyl cellulose insert and contact their physician for advice.

Before using Hydroxypropyl cellulose, patients should notify their doctor if they have any existing allergies. This includes allergies to medications, foods, preservatives, dyes and/or animals. In rare cases, patients may experience an allergic reaction when using Hydroxypropyl cellulose inserts. If so, they will need to access urgent medical treatment. Serious reactions can be life-threatening so it's vital that medical help is sought quickly. An allergic reaction may involve the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Itching
  • Rash on the skin
  • Hives
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Hoarseness
  • Swelling of the hands, mouth, face, lips, throat and/or tongue


As patients will need to use a new Hydroxypropyl cellulose insert each day, they should be given a prescription for numerous inserts. Patients can then keep the inserts at home, ready for use. However, when keeping medicines at home, it's important that patients keep them in a secure location.

Using a locked cabinet or a lockable medicine box can help to ensure that no-one else can access your medicine and that it doesn't pose a risk to anyone else. For example, it's essential that children and/or pets cannot access the patient's Hydroxypropyl cellulose inserts as they may cause harm to them.

When storing Hydroxypropyl cellulose inserts at home, patients should follow the instructions on the packaging or in the medication guide supplied with the inserts. Generally, Hydroxypropyl cellulose inserts can be kept at room temperature but should be kept in a closed container. This ensures that the inserts are not contaminated. Patients should not open the packaging of an insert until they are ready to use it.

In addition to this, patients should keep Hydroxypropyl cellulose inserts away from direct light, moisture and heat.

If patients are advised to stop using Hydroxypropyl cellulose inserts or if they reach their use-by date, patients will need to dispose of them. It is not safe to keep unused or out-of-date medication in the home, even if the patient doesn't intend to use it.

When disposing of medicine, patients should not throw it out with regular household waste as it may pose a risk to someone else. Instead, patients can contact their physician's office, ophthalmologist's office or pharmacist and make use of a designated medicine disposal service.


As dry eyes can be caused by a number of conditions, physicians will want to examine patients before prescribing Hydroxypropyl cellulose inserts. Once the cause of their dry eyes has been identified, their ophthalmologist may prescribe Hydroxypropyl cellulose inserts, as well as recommending further treatment. If additional treatment resolves the patient's current symptoms, they may only need to use Hydroxypropyl cellulose inserts for a relatively short period of time.

However, if patients experience dry eyes on a long-term basis, they may be prescribed Hydroxypropyl cellulose inserts regularly. By adding lubrication to the eye and creating a film of liquid around the eye, Hydroxypropyl cellulose inserts ensure that the eye is able to work properly and that it is adequately protected from any irritants.

As a result, Hydroxypropyl cellulose inserts can successfully reduce the patient's symptoms and ease the pain and discomfort caused by irritated or dry eyes.