Sterile isotonic solutions are available for general ophthalmic use. Depending on the solution, nonprescription ocular irrigating solutions may contain sodium chloride, potassium chloride, calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, sodium acetate, sodium citrate, boric acid, sodium borate, and sodium phosphate. They are preserved with EDTA, benzalkonium chloride, and sorbic acid. Sterile, physiologically balanced, preservative-free salt solutions are isotonic to eye tissues and are used for intraocular irrigation during surgical procedures. Postoperatively, a glucose, glutathione, and bicarbonate solution causes the least change in the corneal endothelial morphology and augments endothelial pump function. It is not routinely used because of cost concerns, but it may be used in patients who have compromised corneas preoperatively.
McDermott M, Snyder R, Slack J, Holley G, Edelhauser H. Effects of intraocular irrigants on the preserved human corneal endothelium. Cornea. 1991;10(5):402–407.
Excerpted from BCSC 2020-2021 series: Section 2 - Fundamentals and Principles of Ophthalmology. For more information and to purchase the entire series, please visit https://www.aao.org/bcsc.