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June 1986

Alcohol Soaking Damages Applanation Tonometer Heads

Arch Ophthalmol. 1986;104(6):800. doi:10.1001/archopht.1986.01050180030015

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To the Editor.  —As per the recent American Academy of Ophthalmology Alert recommendation for decreasing the possibility of transmission of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) virus, or human T-cell lymphotropic virus type III, we have used 70% isopropyl alcohol in which to soak our applanation tonometer heads for five to ten minutes. As can be seen in the Figure, even a fiveminute soaking may cause irreparable damage to the prism of the tonometer head, and, if it is left in such a solution overnight, severe harm is unavoidable.We caution those thinking of using the above method and urge other ophthalmologists to consider the use of one of the other recommended solutions, such as household bleach (Clorox) or hydrogen peroxide. We have also recently found that repeated fiveminute soakings of the tonometer head in a 1:5 solution of household bleach may cause a loss of the exterior finish and

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