Hepatitis C/HIV Risk? Dirty Scleral depressor in eye: Opthamologist
Hello, I recently went to my ophthalmologist (specializing solely in retinas) where they used a scleral depressor directly on the white part of my eye -- the sclera. I was surprised to see the technician put the instrument directly back in the box without wiping it down with alcohol or anything -- just a tissue, and not cleaning it before inserting it my eye. It is then used again on the next patient.
I then voiced my concern to physician. Wish I did beforehand -- but didn't know what was happening. This is the first time I have undergone scleral depression. For a practice that specializes in retinas and not clean the instruments between patients is just disgusting! The physician said, “I wouldn't worry about it. You should be fine.”
The next morning, I ended up getting a call from the CEO of the practice saying they are "investigating" what happened, but that I should not be concerned. The CEO also told me that the technician was also “on leave”. However, they said if I wanted, I could be tested for HIV, Hepatitis B & C. Since they didn't clean the scleral depressor between patients (the tech seemed completely incompetent), should I be concerned about the possibility of contracting Hepatitis B or C or HIV? With all the blood vessels in the eye and it being used on countless patients before me without being cleaned, is there a possibility of infection? The CEO said they typically do scleral depression in about 50% of patients that come in the practice.
I was also told by the retina practice they do have a number of patients that are infected with HIV and Hepatitis C (since there is an impact to the retina in these circumstances). And, they can’t just “turn patients away” if they have these types of viruses.
The procedure hurt very, very badly and my eyes were red after the procedure. Should I be concerned about contracting Hepatitis C or HIV? Can these viruses live in the eyes and in the blood vessels of the eyes? What kind of risk am I facing?
I am concerned. And, I would appreciate any guidance you can provide here.
Transmission / Exposure
How is Hepatitis C spread?
Hepatitis C is usually spread when blood from a person infected with the Hepatitis C virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. Today, most people become infected with the Hepatitis C virus by sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs. Before 1992, when widespread screening of the blood supply began in the United States, Hepatitis C was also commonly spread through blood transfusions and organ transplants.
People can become infected with the Hepatitis C virus during such activities as
Sharing needles, syringes, or other equipment to inject drugs
Needlestick injuries in health care settings
Being born to a mother who has Hepatitis C
Less commonly, a person can also get Hepatitis C virus infection through
Sharing personal care items that may have come in contact with another person’s blood, such as razors or toothbrushes
Having sexual contact with a person infected with the Hepatitis C virus
The people above have given you excellent advice. While HCV is blood to blood I would worry about other germs in my eye. I have been going to Ophthalmologists yearly for about 40 years and have never had an eye exam as you described. How did the CEO know what happened to you?...Did you call them?
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