To study propensity of aerosol and droplet generation during phacoemulsification using high-speed shadowgraphy and quantify its spread amid COVID-19 pandemic.
Aerosol and droplet quantification laboratory.
In an experimental set-up, phacoemulsification was performed on enucleated goat eyes and cadaveric human corneoscleral rims mounted on an artificial anterior chamber. Standard settings for sculpt and quadrant removal mode were used on Visalis 100 (Carl Zeiss Meditec AG). Microincision and standard phacoemulsification were performed using titanium straight tips (2.2 mm and 2.8 mm in diameter). The main wound incisions were titrated equal to and larger than the sleeve size. High-speed shadowgraphy technique was used to detect the possible generation of any droplets and aerosols. The visualization and quantification of size of the aerosols and droplets along with calculation of their spread were the main outcome measures.
In longitudinal phacoemulsification using a peristaltic pump device with a straight tip, no aerosol generation was seen in a closed chamber. In larger wounds, there was a slow leak at the main wound. The atomization of balanced salt solution was observed only when the phacoemulsification tip was completely exposed next to the ocular surface. Under this condition, the nominal size of the droplet was approximately 50 µm, and the maximum calculated spread was 1.3 m.
There was no visible aerosol generation during microincision or standard phacoemulsification. Phacoemulsification is safe to perform in the COVID-19 era by taking adequate precautions against other modes of transmission.