Hypromellose (Ophthalmic)

Overview

Adequate tear production and tear flow are necessary to ensure that eyes remain healthy. If patients are unable to produce tears or their tear flow is impeded, the eyes can become dry and irritated. Often referred to as'artificial tears', Hypromellose eye drops can be used to replicate tear flow and to lubricate dry eyes.

Also known as Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose, Hypromellose, is a water-soluble substitute for tear film. When administered to the eye in the form of eye drops, Hypromellose expands slightly and absorbs water already in or around the eye. As a result, the patient's tear film is thickened and the symptoms of dry and/or irritated eyes are reduced.

As patients can experience reduced tear flow for a number of reasons, Hypromellose eye drops can be used in numerous situations. If patients have an eye condition which limits tear production, for example, Hypromellose eye drops can be used to replace the patients tear film. Whilst artificial tears, or Hypromellose, can be used on a long-term basis, it can also be used as an interim form of symptom management until an appropriate treatment for the patient's condition can be found.

Although Hypromellose can be used to treat patients who are suffering from diagnosed conditions, it can also relieve eye irritation caused by environmental factors. If patients are exposed to sunny or windy climates, for example, their eyes may dry out and require additional lubrication. Similarly, indoor environments which have air conditioning and/or central heating can have a drying effect on the eyes. Hypromellose eye drops can, therefore, be used by patients who spend a lot of time in potentially damaging environments.

Patients who are exposed to relatively high levels of pollution or regularly use monitors, laptops, VDUs and/or television also experience dry eyes on a routine basis. By using Hypromellose eye drops, patients can prevent and reduce eye irritation caused by these external factors.

As well as being used on the eye, Hypromellose eye drops may be used to soften hard contact lenses or to lubricate artificial eyes and other ocular prosthetics. While they are effective when used for this purpose Hypromellose should only ever be used on hard contact lenses, as opposed to soft lenses.

Although Hypromellose eye drops provide patients with symptom relief, they can also prevent the eye from being damaged. When the patient's eyes are dry, it can be easier for an irritant to scratch or damage the eye itself. In addition to this, the patient may be more prone to rubbing their eyes and could inadvertently cause damage to the eye tissue. By increasing the tear film thickness and lubricating the cornea, Hypromellose eye drops can prevent further damage from being inflicted and can ensure that patients do not suffer long-term adverse effects as a result of dry eyes.

Conditions Treated

  • Irritated, dry eyes

Type Of Medicine

  • Emollient solution
  • Ocular lubricant

Side Effects

When patients use medications, such as Hypromellose eye drops, they may experience some side-effects. Generally, these side-effects are relatively mild and do not require medical treatment. Following the application of Hypromellose eye drops, for example, patients may notice the following side-effects occurring:

  • Stickiness or matting of the eyelashes
  • Blurred vision

Typically, these side-effects only last for a short time and are not particularly troublesome for the patient. Providing they are reduced over time, the patient may not need to consult a doctor. However, if the patient experiences severe side-effects or is concerned about the presence of adverse effects when using Hypromellose eye drops, they should always seek medical help.

Patients should also obtain medical advice if they experience any side-effects which are not listed above.

Dosage

When patients are given Hypromellose eye drops, they are normally given a solution with a strength of 0.03% w/v. In most cases, patients will be advised to administer the eye drops three or four times per day, applying just one drop to each eye at a time.

However, this is a general dosing guideline and may not be suitable for every patient. When physicians prescribe Hypromellose eye drops, they will give the patient specific dosage instructions and these should be followed.

In order to administer Hypromellose eye drops, patients should wash their hands thoroughly before handling the medicine or its container. Following this, patients should press gently on their lower eyelids. This will create a gap between the eye and the eyelid and the Hypromellose eye drop should be administered here.

Once the medicine has been applied to the eye, the patient should close their eye and keep it closed for approximately one to two minutes. Patients should not blink during this time as this could prevent the medicine from being fully absorbed.

Following the application, patients should re-seal the container and wash their hands to prevent contaminated. It is important that the eye drop applicator does not come into contact with any substances, including the eye itself. This helps to keep the applicator clean and prevent germs from being introduced to the eye.

If patients are wearing hard contact lenses, they will need to ensure that the eye drops do not cause the lenses to float away from the eye when it is applied. Patients should not attempt to use Hypromellose eye drops when wearing soft contact lenses.

If patients are unsure when to use Hypromellose eye drops or how to administer them, they should seek advice from their ophthalmologist or pharmacist.

Potential Drug Interactions

As medications can sometimes interact with one another, patients should tell their doctor if they are taking any other medicines before they begin using Hypromellose eye drops. In addition to this, patients should tell their physician if they are taking any supplements or vitamins as these can also cause interactions to occur in some cases.

Similarly, patients will need to obtain medical advice before using any new prescription medicines, over-the-counter medications, supplements or vitamins once they have started to use Hypromellose eye drops.

Warnings

Before using any ophthalmic solution, such as Hypromellose eye drops, patients should discuss any existing health conditions and their medical history with their physician. There are some conditions which may affect the suitability or safety of treatment with this medication. By disclosing their current health problems and medical history to their doctor, patients can ensure that Hypromellose eye drops are safe for them to use.

Although there have not been any particular studies into the effects of Hypromellose eye drops on geriatric patients, this medication is not thought to pose a specific risk to these patients.

When using Hypromellose eye drops, patients should notice a reduction in their symptoms fairly quickly. However, if patients notice their symptoms worsening or if their symptoms continue for longer than three days, they should seek medical advice. The following symptoms, in particular, warrant medical attention if they do not subside:

  • Eye pain
  • Continued irritation or redness of the eye
  • Changes to the patient's vision

Hypromellose eye drops have been classified as category C in terms of the risk to pregnant patients. Although Hypromellose eye drops are not thought to pose a risk to pregnant patients or their unborn baby, this cannot be ruled out. Patients should only use this medication during pregnancy if the benefits outweigh the risk.

Similarly, it is not known if Hypromellose could cause harm to an infant if the medicine is transferred breastfeeding. Due to this, patients should always obtain medical advice before taking or using medications when they are breastfeeding.

If patients wear soft contact lenses, they should be removed before Hypromellose eye drops are applied to the eye. Patients should leave soft contact lenses out of their eyes for at least fifteen minutes after the medication has been administered. Inserting soft contact lenses too soon after applying Hypromellose eye drops can result in blurred vision and may cause irreparable damage to the lens.

If patients experience blurred vision after applying Hypromellose eye drops, they should not drive, operate machinery or carry out tasks which require their full attention until the side-effect has been relieved.

Before using Hypromellose eye drops, patients should tell their doctor if they have any allergies. If patients experience an allergic reaction whilst using this medicine, they will need urgent medical assistance. An allergic reaction may include the following symptoms:

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

Storage

When storing Hypromellose eye drops, patients should follow the manufacturer's instructions. Normally, Hypromellose eye drops can be kept at room temperature but should be kept away from direct light, moisture and/or heat.

When keeping medicines at home, it's important that children and/or pets cannot gain access to them.

Summary

When eyes become too dry, they can become sore, red and irritated. Hypromellose eye drops provide an appropriate solution regardless of whether the patient's dry eyes are caused by an existing condition or environmental factors.

By applying Hypromellose eye drops, patients can reduce the symptoms of dry, irritated eyes and can protect their eyes from potential damage.