Microbial Contamination of In-Use Ocular Medications

Oliver D. Schein, Patricia L. Hibberd, Tomy Starck, Ann S. Baker, Kenneth R. Kenyon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two hundred twenty in-use medications from 101 patients with nonmicrobial ocular surface disease were studied by culturing the bottle caps, a drop produced by simple inversion, and the interior contents removed sterilely. Conjunctival cultures were taken from these patients and 50 age-matched controls. Pathogenic organisms were harvested from conjunctivae significantly more frequently (P<.01) from cases (34 of 101) than from controls (five of 50). Sixty-four medications (29%) had microorganisms cultured from at least one medication site. Gram-negative organisms were significantly more likely (P<.00001) to be isolated from all medication sites than gram-positive organisms. Additionally, when isolated from medication sites, the gram-negative organisms were highly likely to be cultured from the conjunctiva as well. This was not true for pathogenic gram-positive organisms. We conclude that a cycle of contamination between inuse medications and conjunctivae may represent an important risk factor for microbial keratitis in patients with ocular surface disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)82-85
Number of pages4
JournalArchives of ophthalmology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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