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Ocular Irritancy Responses to Various pHs of Acids and Bases with and without Irrigation

Author: Murphy JC, Osterberg RE, Seabaugh VM, Bierbower GW

Journal: Toxicology 1982;23(4):281-91

Abstract: Acids and alkalis were instilled into the eyes of 2 groups of rabbits; the eyes of one group were washed with tap water 30 s after exposure. Damage seen in washed and unwashed eyes was not always related to pH. Some strong acids with greater acidity than pH 2.5 produced opacities while 0.3% hydrochloric acid with a pH of 1.28 produced no ocular damage. Phenol (5%) and acetic acid (5%) with pHs greater than 2.5 produced damage equivalent to or greater than that produced by equal concentrations (w/v) of the mineral acids. All alkalis with pHs ranging from 11.5 to 13.5 produced opacities and other ocular damage of different degrees depending upon the alkali and its concentration. For example, low concentrations of some alkalis in the pH range from 11.3 to 12.8 produced no ocular changes. The duration of the corneal opacities produced by phenol, 1% sodium hydroxide, acetic acid and anhydrous sodium carbonate and the onset of corneal opacity produced by 5% sulfuric acid, the weak acids and 1% sodium hydroxide were reduced as a result of washing the test eyes 30 s after instillation of the test material. These data suggest that acidity and alkalinity of the test material are not the only factors to be considered in relation to a substances’ capacity to produce severe ocular injury. The concentration of the test chemical and its period of contact with the eye prior to washing are also important.

While beginning to wear contact lenses, I had an experience which the use of the Morgan Lens saved the day.


I was just finishing a sixteen-hour shift as manager and staff nurse of the ED when I was notified that they had received a bomb threat.  Disaster situation were part of my duties, so I went into action.  By 4:00 AM, I realized I still had my contacts in.  So I got a container and soaked them in an eye solution from our eye tray.  I arrived home with enough time to take a quick nap before returning to work for another sixteen-hour shift.  When I put my contacts in, I felt like someone had placed a hot poker into my eyes.  I took the contacts out, but my eyes continued to burn and were also fire engine red.  I did report to work at 7:00 AM but my eyes continued to burn.  I then decided the best thing I could do was to irrigate, so I placed a Morgan lens into both eyes and irrigated with 1000 cc of lactated Ringer's.  Laying down during the irrigation process was relaxing and I felt no discomfort while my eyes were irrigated.  After the process, the burning was relieved and I was able to complete my shift without further discomfort.

Registered Nurse (South Carolina)

MorTan Inc.

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Why Use The Morgan Lens?

The Morgan Lens is used in 90% of hospital emergency departments in the USA and can be inserted in less than 20 seconds. There simply is no other "hands-free" method of eye irrigation. Nothing else frees medical personnel to treat other injuries or to transport the patient while irrigation is underway. Nothing is more effective at treating ocular chemical, thermal, and actinic burns or removing non-embedded foreign bodies, even when the patient's eyes are closed tightly. Its design makes it simple and straightforward to use so minimal training is required.