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Virucidal benefits of povidone-iodine use on the ocular surface: a review
  1. Magdalena Edington,
  2. Kanna Ramaesh,
  3. David Lockington
  1. Tennent Institute of Ophthalmology, Glasgow, United Kingdom
  1. Correspondence to Dr Magdalena Edington; medington{at}


Povidone-iodine (PVI) preparations are well known for their microbicidal effect. In ophthalmology, PVI is commonly used to sterilise the ocular surface prior to surgical procedures. It is also used uncommonly as treatment for adenoviral conjunctivitis, yet the virucidal benefits of PVI have not been clearly documented in existing clinical management guidelines for ocular surface conditions. The COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the novel severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus, has challenged traditional healthcare systems. The morbidity and mortality of this highly contagious disease have resulted in fatalities among healthcare workers, including ophthalmologists. The SARS-CoV-2 virus has been identified on conjunctival testing, a potential source of contagious infection which may be unrecognised in asymptomatic carriers. Concern has been raised that ocular procedures may be ‘aerosol-generating’ and the additional wearing of personal protective equipment has been recommended to protect operating theatre staff. This literature review demonstrates that PVI has a broad virucidal activity, including against coronaviruses. It is already used perioperatively as standard of ophthalmic care and has been shown clinically to be effective against adenoviruses on the ocular surface. The current surgical practice of application of 5%–10% PVI applied periocularly for 3 min seems to provide an adequate effective reduction in the patient’s ocular surface viral load. The virucidal benefits of routine PVI use should be included in ophthalmology guidelines regarding safe ocular surgery protocols.

  • microbiology
  • epidemiology
  • ocular surface
  • public health
  • treatment other

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  • Contributors ME: planning, literature search, manuscript preparation. KR: manuscript preparation and editing. DL: planning, editing, guarantor of overall content.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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