Disinfection of tonometers and contact lenses in the office setting: are current techniques adequate?

Am J Ophthalmol. 1999 Jan;127(1):77-84. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9394(98)00414-0.


Purpose: To determine whether routine office techniques used to disinfect tonometer prisms and trial contact lenses are sufficient to prevent transmission of ocular infections.

Method: We reviewed the current literature on the efficacy of certain disinfection protocols against commonly encountered viral, bacterial, and fungal pathogens as well as Acanthamoeba.

Results: Some commonly used disinfecting solutions and techniques may be inadequate for disinfection of viruses such as hepatitis C virus and organisms such as Acanthamoeba. When used in accordance with guidelines published by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), 3% hydrogen peroxide is a very effective disinfectant against a wide variety of microorganisms. Specifically, tonometer prisms disinfected by a 5-minute soak in 3% hydrogen peroxide (or 70% isopropyl alcohol or a 1:10 dilution of sodium hypochlorite) are adequately disinfected against most ocular pathogens, with the exception of Acanthamoeba. Trial contact lenses that are disinfected with a 2-hour soak in 3% hydrogen peroxide are effectively rid of all pathogens of concern. After disinfection, rigid lenses should be stored dry, and soft lenses should be stored in a sterile, preserved solution. Repeat disinfection should be routinely performed at 1-month intervals to prevent regrowth of organisms.

Conclusion: A safe office environment can be maintained by following current CDC recommendations for disinfection, as well as instituting some additional procedures.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology
  • Contact Lens Solutions
  • Contact Lenses*
  • Disinfection / standards*
  • Eye Infections / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / pharmacology
  • Physicians' Offices / standards*
  • Tonometry, Ocular / instrumentation*


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Contact Lens Solutions
  • Hydrogen Peroxide