Evaluation of the Effect of Lissamine Green and Rose Bengal on Human Corneal Epithelial Cells

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To examine the effects of lissamine green and rose bengal on proliferating human corneal epithelial (HCE) cells in vitro.


HCE cells derived from explants of discarded corneoscleral rims were cultured by the standard technique. Experimental cells were exposed to 1, 0.5, or 0.1% of either lissamine green or rose bengal for 10 min while control cells were exposed to a phosphate buffer solution (PBS).


Cell viability was 92% greater for 1% lissamine green (p = 0.013) and 81.2% greater for 0.5% lissamine green (p = 0.006) compared to 1 and 0.5% rose bengal, respectively. The difference between the effect of 0.1% rose bengal and 0.1% lissamine green on cell viability was not statistically significant (p = 0.83). Rose bengal staining of HCE cells was immediate and readily detectable with unaided eyes at all three concentrations, whereas no observable staining of healthy HCE cells was noted with lissamine green.


Rose bengal adversely affects HCE cell viability and stains normal proliferating HCE cells in contrast to lissamine green, which exhibited neither of these characteristics. Therefore, we recommend the use of lissamine green over rose bengal in evaluating ocular surface disorders.

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