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January 20, 1975

Silver Nitrate Ocular Damage in Newborns

Author Affiliations

Downstate Medical Center State University of New York Brooklyn, NY

JAMA. 1975;231(3):245. doi:10.1001/jama.1975.03240150009002

To the Editor.—  Credé prophylaxis for ophthalmia neonatorum utilizing a 1% or 2% solution of silver nitrate is the most widely recognized and accepted method of prevention of eye infections in newborns. Few complications have been reported with this method. However, serious eye damage occurred in a newborn nursery in a modern hospital when a child received the application of a silver nitrate stick instead of a 1% solution to his eyes.A newborn baby delivered extramurally on May 8, 1973, was brought to the hospital nursery. A nurse attempting to give prophylactic eye treatment instead dropped two drops from a silver nitrate stick into the baby's eyes. One hour after the instillation there was a thick, sanguineous, yellowish, purulent secretion. The eyelids became red and edematous. The conjunctiva was markedly injected. The corneas had a blue-to-gray bedewed appearance. There were areas of corneal opacification. The conjunctiva was more friable