To review the effectiveness of topical ocular hypertonic saline in corneal edema.
Online literature search of published articles on the effectiveness of topical hypertonic saline in corneal edema, bullous keratopathy (BK), and other associated corneal conditions in humans was performed on April 16, 2020.
A total of 16 articles were reviewed after curation by the authors for relevance, with 4 randomized control trials, 6 prospective studies, 4 retrospective studies, and 2 case reports. Efficacy of hypertonic saline eye drops varied widely, depending on the specific corneal disorder being treated. Six of the studies involved BK (edema involves epithelium), 2 in corneal edema limited to the stroma, 5 in Fuchs dystrophy, 3 in filamentary keratitis (the presence of filaments attached to corneal epithelium), 2 in recurrent corneal erosion, and 1 in jellyfish stings. There was limited efficacy for hypertonic saline in BK, whereas clinical improvement was noted in most studies for corneal edema without epithelial involvement, especially if associated with Fuchs dystrophy or corneal hydrops in keratoconus. Hypertonic saline also seems to be beneficial for other corneal disorders, such as filamentary keratitis and jellyfish stings, but not in recurrent corneal erosion. Adverse effects from topical hypertonic saline include a mild stinging or burning sensation, with no serious complications having been reported.
Topical ocular hypertonic saline seems to be a safe and effective treatment in the management of less severe forms of corneal edema and other corneal disorders such as filamentary keratitis.