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Article
January 1947

TREATMENT OF LEWISITE BURNS OF THE EYE WITH DIMERCAPROL ("BAL")

Arch Ophthalmol. 1947;37(1):25-41. doi:10.1001/archopht.1947.00890220030004
Abstract

EXPOSURE of the eye to relatively small quantities of liquid or vapor lewisite (betachlorovinyldichloroarsine) produces a devastating ocular lesion. As will be demonstrated later, the progressive nature of such a burn is caused by the arsenical component of this war gas. To decontaminate the tissues of arsenic after exposure to lewisite, English workers synthesized 2,3-dimercaptopropanol (CH2SH:CHSH:CH2OH), now called dimercaprol ("BAL"). The work pursued in the laboratories of the Wilmer Ophthalmological Institute was devoted to the determination of the optimum conditions for the use of this antidote, its mode of action and its limitations. These experiments will be discussed under the following headings : (1) the distinctive clinical and pathologic characteristics of lewisite burns of the eye with respect to mode of action, rate of penetration and the time at which irreversible histologic changes first develop; (2) the rate of penetration and persistence of arsenic in the tissues

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