Irvine, CA, May 12, 2017 --(PR.com
)-- Each year hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S., and millions of people worldwide contract preventable eye infections, particularly a serious viral infection called Epidemic Keratoconjunctivitis (EKC), at their local eye care clinic through inadequate or failed medical office sanitation according to reports by the CDC, Dr. Kathryn Najafi, and U.S. Dept. of Health. These are called healthcare acquired infections (HAI's). HAI's overall are estimated to result in deaths of 75,000 to 100,000 Americans a year according to the CDC's report. (accessed at https://www.cdc.gov/hai/surveillance/).
American Safe Sight Foundation (ASF Safesight.org) believes that "Clean Care is the Best Care," however generally speaking, these basic hygiene steps are not part of current ophthalmology practice. For example, a simple 2 second alcohol wipe may be used to "sterilize" the same tonometer tip that is placed in your eye as the next 20 patients who all sit in the same chair. Alcohol does not kill most viruses and is ineffective against threats like EKC, Hepatitis virus, and HIV. According to the CDC, eye practice reliance on alcohol swabs for disinfection cause many of the EKC propagation. Another example, the same bottle of eye drops are used on hundreds of patients in an eye office without any disinfection or disposable single use units. Although other medical and surgical specialities have stringent sterilization, ophthalmology remains in the dark ages with respect to properly sterilizing and thereby protecting our most precious gift- our vision.
US CDC “In each [EKC] outbreak, health-care–associated transmission appeared to occur via ophthalmologic examination" (Reference CDC MMWR Aug 2013)
EZ Steps to Eye Health Acquired Infection (HAI) Prevention:
-Use disposable tip or non-contact tonometry devices
-Use single use eye drops
-Use medical-grade disinfectants to wipe all semicritical surfaces
-Recognize that alcohol wipes are not an acceptable antiviral cleaner
-Make EKC a legally reportable disease in the US
Epidemic keratoconjunctivitis (EKC) is a highly contagious, incurable, viral infection of the eye that may permanently damage the eye. The single biggest risk factor for contracting EKC is seeing any eye doctor and having an eye exam with improperly sanitized equipment within 7-14 days before the onset of an eye infection. Even innocent premature infants with no other risk factors have contracted the EKC infection through eye exams in neonatal intensive care units.
Dr. Ron Nafaji CEO of NovaBay gave the keynote speach at the ASF Inaugural Annual gala at The Ocean Institute. He says EKC is a miserable and incurable disease which feels like numerous grains of sand in your eyes and causes severe pain. EKC can cause serious blurred vision, impaired vision, corneal disease, and ongoing eye symptoms and debility for up to years if not a lifetime. You don't want to get this disease and need to take precautions at every eye appointment to make sure your ophthalmologist follows best practices and medically sanitizes the equipment and uses individual eye drops. Steroids are a terrible thing to give for EKC. Epidemic keratoconjunctivitis is a preventable disease and the message needs to get to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
In view of the potential for transmission of viruses (e.g., herpes simplex virus [HSV], adenovirus 8, or HIV) 184 by tonometer tips, CDC recommended that the tonometer tips be wiped clean and disinfected for 5-10 minutes with either 3% hydrogen peroxide, 5000 ppm chlorine, 70% ethyl alcohol, or 70% isopropyl alcohol 95. However, more recent data suggest that 3% hydrogen peroxide and 70% isopropyl alcohol are not effective against adenovirus capable of causing epidemic keratoconjunctivitis and similar viruses and should not be used for disinfecting applanation tonometers. Reference Citations 49, 185, 186.
No man, woman, or child should ever fear going into their eye doctor for a healthy annual check and and coming out with a sight threatening eye infection. Therefore, enhancing the best practices in the delivery of eye care in the U.S. and world is entirely about preventing these diseases through proper sterilization and good clean care at eye doctor offices and clinics.
EKC is caused by several strains of incurable viruses. There is no uniformly effective treatment, vaccine, or antiviral medications available for EKC.
A large number of people contract EKC from ophthalmologist or optometrist’s office after use of eye examination equipment, particularly during eye pressure (glaucoma) checks due to improper disinfection techniques.
It is very important for individuals infected with EKC to take hygienic measures.
*EKC is now in a worldwide epidemic status. The U.S. laws do not require ophthalmologists to report the disease in their offices. Japan and Germany have made EKC a mandatorily reportable disease.
*EKC virus is not adequately disinfected by 70% isopropyl alcohol, which many eye clinics routinely use.
*EKC can infect anyone, at any age. It can debilitate the youngest in neonatal intensive care units and the elderly and low vision patients.
*EKC spread can be easily and simply prevented by proper hygiene, use of disposable supplies, single use eye droppers in clinics instead of the stock bottle use on multiple patients, medical grade disinfection at offices, and routine use of universal precautions and gloves at all eye care doctors and ophthalmology surgery centers.
Please continue to support enhancements in best practices in eye care by your support and tax deductible contributions at safesight.org.