Mydriatic drops: Cognitive effect?

March 1, 2011

Mydriatic eye drops do not seem to affect cognitive function, based on results of cognitive testing.

Little Rock, AR-Mydriatic eye drops do not seem to affect cognitive function, based on the results of cognitive testing, according to Inci Irak-Dersu, MD, MPH.

"A dilated eye examination is a part of routine, complete ocular examinations," she said. "[The eyes of] millions of patients are dilated each day with a sympathomimetic drug, such as phenylephrine, and an anticholinergic drug, such as tropicamide. The containers of these drops actually carry warning statements."

Use of tropicamide may result in cardiovascular collapse and labeling warns of central nervous system side effects, especially in children.

Dr. Irak-Dersu pointed out that there is a strong recommendation about applying digital pressure to the lacrimal sac for 2 to 3 minutes following instillation of the drops, but this is not performed universally.

In light of these warnings, she and her colleagues carried out a study to determine whether instillation of mydriatic drops affects cognitive function (i.e., memory, attention, or concentration). Dr. Irak-Dersu underscored the importance of knowing the effect of these drugs because "many times the medical or surgical plan is not discussed and informed consent is not obtained before pupil dilation."