Disinfection advice for optoms

New Zealand and Australian optometrists concerned about spreading Covid-19 should abide by regulatory advice and use a medical grade disinfectant that is TGA-approved as a high level disinfectant for their instruments, and ensure all single-use ophthalmic tools are used once and then disposed of, said Justine Beale, New Zealand managing director of infection control company Tristel.

Tristel has been inundated with calls from optometrists in Australia concerned about their disinfection practice since their governing body, Optometry Australia (OA), issued guidelines in March designed to help them keep themselves, their staff and their patients safe, said Beale. “Covid-19 can be spread through tears, through mucosa in the eye, and we’ve got medical devices touching people’s eyes and optometrists’ eyes going up against equipment that is close to patients that currently just receive an alcohol wipe, which is simply not effective against Covid-19 or conjunctivitis.”

The OA guidelines stipulate all medical devices that come into contact with a mucosal surface, such as the surface of the eye, including tonometers, prisms, pachymeters, A- and B-scan probes, etc. should be disinfected with a chlorine dioxide disinfectant. This is stipulated under AS/NZS-4187, the Australian and New Zealand reprocessing standards for reusable medical devices, said Beale, and is required regardless of whether a patient is known to be infectious or not.

Alcohol wipes could be used for surfaces, such as door handles, but not for equipment that touches the eye, she said. “Optometrists in New Zealand are typically doing nothing for tonometer or gonio lens disinfection or just using IPA (alcohol wipes). But under the TGA (Therapeutics Goods Administration) alcohol is classified as a surface disinfectant only, not an instrument grade disinfectant.”

Beale said the problem is significant, but it’s good to see optometrists are now asking the right questions and seeking out the right products.

“The Optometry Australia guidelines are a good start and they are certainly better than other ophthalmic guidelines… (as they) are directing people to provide the right level of disinfection for their instruments and equipment.”

Currently Tristel’s two chlorine dioxide products are the only high-level disinfectants authorised for ophthalmic medical devices in Australasia.

To read Optometry Australia’s full guidelines, visit: www.optometry.org.au/workplace/coronavirus-what-optometrists-need-to-know-ask-before-and-at-appointments/#OPTAUClo2

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