Metallic Engineered Nanomaterials and Ocular Toxicity: A Current Perspective

Pharmaceutics. 2022 May 3;14(5):981. doi: 10.3390/pharmaceutics14050981.


The ocular surface, comprised of the transparent cornea, conjunctiva, and protective tear film, forms a protective barrier defending deeper structures of the eye from particulate matter and mechanical trauma. This barrier is routinely exposed to a multitude of naturally occurring and engineered nanomaterials (ENM). Metallic ENMs are particularly ubiquitous in commercial products with a high risk of ocular exposure, such as cosmetics and sunscreens. Additionally, there are several therapeutic uses for metallic ENMs owing to their attractive magnetic, antimicrobial, and functionalization properties. The increasing commercial and therapeutic applications of metallic ENMs come with a high risk of ocular exposure with poorly understood consequences to the health of the eye. While the toxicity of metallic ENMs exposure has been rigorously studied in other tissues and organs, further studies are necessary to understand the potential for adverse effects and inform product usage for individuals whose ocular health may be compromised by injury, disease, or surgical intervention. This review provides an update of current literature on the ocular toxicity of metallic ENMs in vitro and in vivo, as well as the risks and benefits of therapeutic applications of metallic ENMs in ophthalmology.

Keywords: corneal wound healing; eye; metallic engineered nanomaterials; metallic nanoparticles; ocular toxicity.

Publication types

  • Review