Dry Eye

New movement highlights importance of preservative-free eye care options

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A recent panel discussion underscored the need for increased awareness of preservative-free eye care products and the importance of empowering patients with safe and effective treatment options.

Preservative Freedom, from Théa Pharmaceutical, aims to unite various stakeholders to drive positive change in the field of eye care. By advocating for preservative-free alternatives and promoting further research and innovation, this coalition strives to ensure optimal eye health and comfort for all individuals with eye conditions.

During the panel discussion, moderator Darrell E. White, MD, along with panelists Jason Bacharach, MD; Lisa Nijm, MD, JD; and Aakriti Garg Shukla, MD discussed the challenges faced by cataract and refractive surgeons in relation to the ocular surface.

Dr White and Dr Nijm emphasized the high prevalence of ocular surface disease among patients and the detrimental impact of preservatives on these conditions, noting that every time surgeons enter the corneal nerves during procedures, they increase the strain on the ocular surface, exacerbating symptoms for patients.

Dr Bacharach highlighted the historic advancements in glaucoma medications over the past decades. He mentions the introduction of prostaglandins in 1998 and the launch of the first MIGS (minimally invasive glaucoma surgery) in 2012. Although these options have improved efficacy, they often require medications with preservatives that can affect the safety and tolerability for patients, he said.

Offering preservative-free options to glaucoma patients is important, Dr. Shukla said. Many patients are already using multiple drops, causing significant ocular surface issues. By providing preservative-free alternatives, ophthalmologists can empower patients and potentially avoid more invasive surgeries.

The launch of Preservative Freedom marks the beginning of a movement aimed at promoting the use of preservative-free eye care products. Dr White underscored the importance of this movement in addressing the adverse effects of preservatives found in many eyedrops on the ocular surface. These preservatives can lead to irritation, inflammation, and even damage to the cornea. Individuals with chronic eye conditions requiring frequent use of preserved eyedrops are particularly vulnerable to these unwanted effects.

To tackle this issue, Preservative Freedom aims to increase awareness of preservative-free treatment options, advocate for greater accessibility and affordability of these products, and promote further research and innovation. The coalition brings together key stakeholders, including industry leaders, researchers, healthcare providers, and patient advocacy groups, in an inclusive approach.

Dr White notes that the movement for Preservative Freedom is not limited to glaucoma but encompasses all eye conditions. He mentions the case of patients with allergies who often suffer from the side effects of preserved eye medications. The focus on efficacy has overshadowed the burden patients face due to preservatives, including discomfort, redness, and itching.

To learn more about preservative-free eye care, click here.