We used standard 2,450-MHz microwave irradiation to achieve sterilization of hydrophilic contact lenses contaminated with a variety of bacterial, fungal, and viral corneal pathogens. A three-dimensional rotisserie was used to overcome the problem of "cold spots" within the microwave oven. The contact lenses became dehydrated in approximately two minutes. Rehydration with normal saline restored their shape and appearance. The time necessary to prohibit all growth of the bacterial and fungal organisms studied ranged from 45 seconds to eight minutes. All viral contaminants were completely inactivated after four minutes of microwave exposure. Refractive properties were unaffected after 101 exposures to microwaves for ten minutes. Slit-lamp examination and scanning electron microscopy disclosed minute particles on the surface of these contact lenses but no damage to the lens matrix from irradiation.
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