Debris on processed ophthalmic instruments: a cause for concern

Eye (Lond). 2002 May;16(3):281-4. doi: 10.1038/sj.eye.6700132.


Purpose: To assess the quality of processed ophthalmic instruments and look for the presence of foreign material on the surface of these instruments.

Methods: Data were prospectively collected on the presence of debris on processed instruments in the trays used for phacoemulsification surgery. All instruments were examined under an operating microscope before use and details of the types of debris on the various instruments were noted. If debris was found, a new tray was opened to obtain a clean instrument.

Results: Forty-seven trays were opened for use during the study period. Deposits on instruments were found in 29 (62%) trays. These were mainly present on the intraocular lens introducers. Loose fibres were found on instruments from eight (17%) trays. Debris was found in the aspiration channels of three (6%) hand pieces.

Conclusions: A significant number of processed ophthalmic instruments had debris on their surfaces. To reduce the risk of intraocular inflammation and of transmission of prion diseases the instruments should go through a thorough decontamination process before sterilization. Routine mechanical cleaning at the end of surgery and ultrasonic cleaning before sterilization should reduce the occurrence of debris on the instruments. Instruments should also be inspected under the operating microscope before use.

MeSH terms

  • Corneal Edema / prevention & control
  • Equipment Contamination*
  • Humans
  • Lens Implantation, Intraocular / instrumentation*
  • Phacoemulsification / instrumentation*
  • Prion Diseases / prevention & control
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality Control*
  • Sterilization