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April 1978

Hepatitis B Surface Antigen in Human Tears

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Ophthalmology (Dr Darrell) and Medicine (Dr Jacob), Columbia University, New York.

Arch Ophthalmol. 1978;96(4):674-676. doi:10.1001/archopht.1978.03910050370014

• The incidence of hepatitis B virus infection has been increasing every year in the United States, particularly among medical personnel. Only half of these cases are associated with exposure to blood or blood products. Respiratory, fecal-oral, and venereal methods of transmission of hepatitis B virus infection are supported by epidemiological evidence and by the demonstration of hepatitis B surface (HBsAg) antigen in several body secretions. In this investigation, tears were collected from patients whose serum was positive for HBsAg. These tears were tested for the same antigen, which was found to be present in half the cases. There is a risk of transferring hepatitis B virus infection by tonometers or soft contact lenses contaminated by HBsAg.

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