Links to articles and websites:
... It has been recommended that the mercury balloon be replaced with a water-filled balloon, or ... is desired,
Intraocular Pressure Devices
Prior to ophthalmic surgery, pressure within the eyeball can be reduced to simplify surgery. Historically mercury-filled balloons
have been used for this procedure. Approximately 175 grams of elemental mercury is poured into a small balloon the size of a
large egg, then double or triple bagged. When placed on the eye, the weight of the mercury on the eyeball keeps fluid from
accumulating at the normal rate, softening the eyeball prior to surgery.
Newer micro-surgical procedures have relegated this device to forgotten drawers in most facilities because pressure reduction
is not always necessary. The stored pressure reducer may create a waste problem because it may be easily discarded
inappropriately due to its small and inconspicuous size.
As use decreases, these devices have been found shoved to the back of cabinets or drawers, often in the Outpatient Surgery
area, and forgotten. Effort must be exerted to search for these unused items and to properly dispose of them while the hospital
is actively involved in their mercury elimination project. A similar device has been seen consisting of a hard, formed plastic egg
with one convex side that snapped to a headband. Many staff consider the device inferior. The concern is that a less adequate
device, like the hard plastic egg will not be used and the mercury-filled devices will be brought back into service. Without a
replacement available, physicians may request repair of one of the old-style mercury pressure reducers, unnecessarily
exposing staff and patients to possible elemental mercury exposure.
No manufacturer could be found that is still making mercury pressure reducers, and no recycling programs are in place
for them. It is the responsibility of the facility to find, recycle, and replace these devices. If a replacement is desired, the
Lebanon Corporation offers the Honan Intraocular Pressure Reducer or Eye Softener. It is a pneumatic device with a
pressure gauge to maintain even pressure on the eyeball.