Decontamination

1 February 2010
Volume 11, Issue 1

Department of Health guidance on managing CJD and vCJD risk in ophthalmology.

Introduction

To ‘decontaminate’ is literally to rid something of contamination. In general usage the term often applies to the removal of noxious gases, chemicals or radioactive material from environments; in the medical context the meaning has become more specific. Various definitions exist, but one that may be considered satisfactory for our present purposes is the following: ‘Decontamination is the term used to describe a combination of processes, including cleaning, disinfection and/or sterilisation, used to render a re-usable item safe for further use’ (NHS Estates 2003). 

This article addresses the decontamination, following use, of contact lenses and ophthalmic devices. An ophthalmic device is any diagnostic or therapeutic instrument that comes into contact with the ocular surface, for example a tonometer prism.

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