Although manufacturers recommend cleaning ophthalmic lenses with detergent and water and then with a specific disinfectant, disinfectants are rarely used in ophthalmic practices. The aim of this pilot study was to evaluate the efficacy of detergent and water versus that of bleach, a recommended disinfectant, to eliminate common ocular bacteria and viruses from ophthalmic lenses.
Three bacterial strains (Staphylococcus epidermidis, Corynebacterium straitum, and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and 2 viral strains (adenovirus and herpes simplex virus [HSV] type-1) were individually inoculated onto 20 gonioscopy and laser lenses. The lenses were washed with detergent and water and then disinfected with 10% bleach. All the lenses were cultured after inoculation, after washing with detergent and water, and after disinfecting with the bleach. Bacterial cultures in thioglycollate broth were observed for 3 weeks, and viral cultures were observed for 2 weeks. The presence of viruses was also detected by multiplex polymerase chain reaction (PCR).
All 20 lenses inoculated with S. epidermidis, C. straitum, adenovirus, and HSV-1 showed growth after inoculation but no growth after washing with detergent/water and after disinfecting with the bleach. All lenses showed positive HSV and adenovirus PCR results after inoculation and negative PCR results after washing with detergent/water and after disinfecting with bleach. All methicillin-resistant S. aureus-contaminated lenses showed growth after inoculation and no growth after washing with detergent and water. However, 1 lens showed positive growth after disinfecting with bleach.
Cleaning with detergent and water seemed to effectively eliminate bacteria and viruses from the surface of contaminated ophthalmic lenses. Further studies are warranted to design practical disinfection protocols that minimize lens damage.