Sterile Technique

Sterile technique is a process performed almost daily in an ophthalmology clinic. It applies to every in-office procedure and can be done in an exam room or specialized procedure room. It is an important responsibility of a technician to understand the how and why of sterile technique.

Sterile technique should not be confused with aseptic technique. Aseptic technique is used to prepare operating rooms and is necessary to create an environment free from microorganism. This technique includes sterile gloving, sterile gowns, sterile devices/equipment and only sterile-to-sterile contact is allowed. Rather, sterile technique is used to reduce microorganisms from the surrounding area and instruments. Sterile technique includes proper hand washing, clean gloves, and “no touch technique” which means sterile instruments never come in contact with bare hands or any non-sterile surface. Sterile technique is used for minor procedures such has chalazion excision, skin tag removal, etc.

First, ensure proper hand washing is done prior to putting on clean, undamaged gloves. After putting on clean gloves the sterile instrument packets can be opened, and instruments placed on sterile field. After the procedure is completed by the ophthalmologist all instruments should be properly sanitized. Moist heat sterilization, the autoclave, is the most common method used to sterilize instruments. It is imperative that the instruments are properly cleaned removing any blood or debris prior to putting them in the autoclave sterilization packets. The autoclave does not clean instruments and dirty instruments cannot be sterilized.

Always follow the protocols put in place by the practice and ophthalmologist and when in doubt check with your lead technician.

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