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Incidence of ocular side effects of topical β blockers in the Netherlands
  1. Luc M van Beeka,d,
  2. Rob J W de Keizera,
  3. Bettine C P Polakb,
  4. Paul R Elzenaarc,
  5. Nicolaas J van Haeringend,
  6. Aize Kijlstrad,e
  1. aDepartment of Ophthalmology, Leiden University Medical Center, Netherlands, bDepartment of Ophthalmology, Free University Hospital, Amsterdam, Netherlands, cTramedico BV, Medical Department, Weesp, Netherlands, dNetherlands Ophthalmic Research Institute, eInstitute for Animal Science and Health, Lelystad, Netherlands
  1. L M van Beek, MD, Leiden University Medical Center, Department of Ophthalmology, PO Box 9600, 2300 RN Leiden, Netherlandslmvanbeek{at}


BACKGROUND Several ocular side effects including uveitis, have been reported following topical β blocker treatment for glaucoma and ocular hypertension. The incidence of these side effects was investigated in the Netherlands.

METHODS A prospective observational design was used whereby monthly questionnaires were sent to all practising ophthalmologists in the Netherlands during 3 consecutive months. Questionnaires were returned at the end of each month. Any patient whose topical β blocker therapy was altered because of an ocular reaction was noted on this questionnaire. Ophthalmologists who did not return their questionnaires were interviewed by telephone at the end of the study period. The number of patients using topical β blockers was derived from drug sales figures.

RESULTS 70% (328/467) of the ophthalmologists in the Netherlands participated in the study. During the 3 month study period 34 cases were reported: 15 patients had periorbital dermatitis, in eight patients eyelids and conjunctiva were affected, in seven patients the conjunctiva was affected, and four patients had punctate keratitis. The calculated incidence of ocular side effects during topical β blocker therapy was 1.51 cases/1000 patient years.

CONCLUSION Topical β blocker therapy is associated with few clinically important ocular side effects. No cases of uveitis were reported.

  • β blockers
  • ocular side effects
  • uveitis
  • Netherlands

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