• We evaluated the antiviral effects of rose bengal and fluorescein sodium. The direct antiviral activity was determined by an in vitro direct neutralization assay. The 50% inhibitory dose was 16 μg/mL for rose bengal and 460 μg/mL for fluorescein. The in vivo antiviral effects of these drugs were determined in the mouse herpetic keratitis model. Following topical application, rose bengal reduced surface virus titers (swabs) 1 million-fold, and residual ocular virus (eye homogenates) 32-fold, compared with controls. No infectious virus was recovered by swabbing after topical application of rose bengal. Fluorescein had no significant effect on virus replication. Thus, rose bengal, unlike fluorescein, has significant antiviral activity, and the diagnostic use of rose bengal prior to viral culture may preclude a positive result. Also, the use of rose bengal to grade keratitis in the study of new antiviral agents should be discouraged.
Roat MI, Romanowski E, Araullo-Cruz T, Gordon YJ. The Antiviral Effects of Rose Bengal and Fluorescein. Arch Ophthalmol. 1987;105(10):1415–1417. doi:10.1001/archopht.1987.01060100117039