Carboxymethylcellulose: Basics, Benefits and Risks.

by Nancy Ahuja


Carboxymethylcellulose is a compound substance. It is mainly used as an ophthalmic agent. It works as an eye lubricant. 

Carboxymethylcellulose finds use because of its viscous mucoadhesive properties. The charged nature of the compound lets it be in the eyes for a longer time. 

It is also one of the most commonly used salts. Carboxymethylcellulose is available as eye drops, gels, and ointments. 

Benefits of Carboxymethylcellulose 

  • Carboxymethylcellulose is obtained from the cell walls of plants. It is also used in food items to make them thick and creamy without adding fat. 
  • In ophthalmic purposes, it is used to relieve dry and irritated eyes or dry eye syndrome. Common causes for dry eyes include wind, sun, heating/air conditioning, computer use/reading, and certain medications. 

Recommended Product: Buy Eye Drops Online 

What is dry eye syndrome?

Dry eye syndrome is a common condition. In which dryness of the eye is felt due to the absence of tears. It may be due to insufficient eye drop production or quick evaporation of tears from the eyes.

Contraindication to carboxymethylcellulose

Carboxymethylcellulose is contraindicated or avoided when you are hypersensitive to it. 

Side effects of Carboxymethylcellulose

Common side effects of carboxymethylcellulose are:

  • Redness 
  • Irritation
  • Burning
  • Itching 
  • Eye pain
  • Eye discharge 
  • Visual disturbances

How does carboxymethylcellulose(CMC) work?

It is a lubricant that works similarly to tears. Lubrication is achieved by being inside the eye for a longer time. Carboxymethylcellulose works by providing enough moisture by sticking to the eye surface. The effect of the CMC is around 2 hours. 

The CMC is non-reactive or does not interact with food, medicines, and diseases. It is strictly used for the external application only. 

Risks of carboxymethylcellulose 

  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding and are going to take carboxymethylcellulose. They will look at the benefits and risks before indicating it to you. 
  • You may experience visual disturbances while using the carboxymethylcellulose eye drops. It is recommended to temporarily stop the use as it may be risky to drive or do activities that require focus and vision. 
  • No habit-forming tendencies are identified when using the carboxymethylcellulose.
  • The interaction of CMC with alcohol is not known. The effect of carboxymethylcellulose on kidney or liver function is unknown. 

What are the general things to follow while using Carboxymethylcellulose?

If the eye irritation or dry eye does not improve after using the carboxymethylcellulose for dry eyes or eye irritation, then you have to consult an ophthalmologist for further advice. 

Do not use or put the contact lenses in your eyes while applying the CMC drops. Put the contact lens after 15 minutes of carboxymethylcellulose application. 

If you are using any other eye drops apart from the carboxymethylcellulose. Maintain a gap of 15 minutes between two eye drops medications. 

If you accidentally swallow the eyedrop medication, contact your nearby hospital immediately. 

Signs and symptoms of dry eye syndrome

  • Dryness 
  • Soreness
  • Itching
  • Burning sensation
  • Dryness
  • Redness
  • Pain
  • Watering 
  • The feeling of pressure in the eyes

Final thoughts 

The carboxymethylcellulose can be used as an additive and as an eye drop. The eye drops are meant for external applications only. You can buy these eyes from any online pharmacy easily. The main benefit of the CMC eye drops is for relief from dry eye syndrome. However, be cautious about using the CMC eye drops in special situations and people. Do not use this product if you are hypersensitive to it. Discontinue using this product if you do not see any benefit to using it for dry eyes.

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