Visual problems primarily occur with the use of polysorbate 80, although this ingredient is also associated with growth and reproductive toxicity, cancer, organ poisoning and neurological side effects, states Truth in Aging. Evidence based on animal test data also indicates that polysorbate 80 may promote genetic mutations.
Polysorbate 80 is a known surfactant and emulsifier that reduces a solvent's surface tension to enable other substances to easily dissolve. This solubilizing agent is a common ingredient in cosmetics and beauty products, as well as an additive in food. Although there are some concerns regarding contamination from polysorbate 80, this ingredient is considered a low-hazard component as of 2015.
In 2006, studies performed in test tubes using mammalian cells revealed polysorbate 80's mutagenic effects. Another study indicated that intravenous administration of this substance into rats significantly altered the subjects' reproductive process. Published scientific literature also related polysorbate 80 to severe allergic reactions, which eventually resulted in a fatality case. As of 2015, there is insufficient clinical data to suggest that topical use of polysorbate 80 can cause adverse reproductive effects.
Due to polysorbate 80's emulsifying properties, it is commonly used in conjunction with other active ingredients for efficient delivery of medications. When used in combination with glycerin for ophthalmic applications, polysorbate 80 can cause blurred vision, with mild stinging and burning sensation around the application site, explains WebMD.
Polysorbate 80 acting on darbepoetin alfa is known to cause various side effects, including abdominal pain, breathing difficulties, chills, confusion, loose bowel movements, pus accumulation, dizziness, headaches, retching and weight gain, notes Drugs.com. Other side effects include anxiety, convulsions, motor impairment and slow speech. Although infrequent, fever, sore throat, hives, pale skin and unexplained exhaustion may also occur.