Airborne pathogen projection during ophthalmic examination

Basak Bostanci Ceran*, Alp Karakoç, Ertuğrul Taciroğlu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Microscale droplets act as coronaviruses (CoV) carriers in the air when released from an infected person and may infect others during close contact such as ophthalmic examination. The main objective of the present work is to demonstrate how CoV deposited droplets are projected during biomicroscopy and to discuss what kind of precautions should be taken in ophthalmic practice. Methods: A coupled fluid-structure system comprising smoothed particle hydrodynamics and the finite element method has been built to assess the projection of droplets spreading from an infected person. Different conditions based on the maximum exit flow velocity from the infector’s mouth during the ophthalmic examination were modeled. Results: During exhalation, for which the exit flow is ~ 1000 mm/s, the average horizontal distance of the flow front was ~ 200 mm while individual particles can reach up to ~ 500 mm. In case of coughing or sneezing (corresponding to an exit flow of ~ 12,000 mm/s), the average horizontal distance of the flow front was ~ 1300 mm. Conclusion: During the ophthalmic examination, the proximity to the patient’s nose and mouth was observed to be less than the horizontal distance of flow front particles. Even though mounted breath shields are used, particles flew beyond the shield and contaminate the ophthalmologist. Compared with the current protective breath shields, the use of a larger shield with a minimum radius of 18 cm is needed to decrease viral transmission.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2275-2282
Number of pages8
JournalGraefe's Archive for Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology
Issue number10
Early online date25 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Airborne pathogens
  • Biomicroscope
  • Coronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Droplet projection
  • Fluid-structure system
  • Ophthalmology
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Viral transmission

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