Dental eye-protection movement born from infection-control issues

2014 10 27 14 57 03 283 2014 10 28 Marrone Jenn 200

More than a year ago, Jenn Morrone went to her dentist for a root canal. As she sat in the chair waiting for the routine procedure to begin, she wasn't offered eye protection, and this would have important consequences.

Morrone this summer with her eye patch. All images courtesy of Jenn Morrone.Morrone this summer with her eye patch. All images courtesy of Jenn Morrone.

As Morrone relates on her website and her Facebook page, her dentist went to numb her treatment. Then, rather than passing the needle over her chest, it was passed over her face without being recapped. The needle, which contained Streptococcus bacteria, was then dropped directly into her eye.

Unfortunately, eye injury protocol was not followed. She was not led to an eye wash station but rather handed a wet tissue, after which the root canal procedure was completed. The next day, Morrone woke with pain and went to the emergency room, where she was treated with an eye wash, antibiotics, and directly injected steroids. As her eye did not improve, she was admitted to the hospital for in-patient antibiotic treatment and cleanings. Even after multiple surgeries and infection removal, it was impossible to save the eye, as her retina had become completely detached.

So, the root canal procedure led to Morrone becoming permanently blind in her right eye.

Rather than sit back, Morrone decided to try to stop this from happening again, launching a campaign called Jenn's Vision, with vigorous Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter campaigns.

Immediately after the operations to save Morrone's vision.Immediately after the operations to save Morrone's vision.

In an interview with, Morrone took some time to explain how she is working to educate the dental industry and patients about the need for infection-control procedures and protective eyewear, as well as the support and change she is pushing to make happen every day in every office.

She noted that she's found significant support in the industry for her campaign, which she wants to continue to expand.

"Patients think when they are in the dental chair, 'Make this pain stop' and 'What do I need to do when I leave?' " she said. "I want to have patients think, 'Oh, I am going to the dentist. I need to bring my glasses.' I want eyewear to be standard."

Unfortunately, as she noted this isn't the first time something like this has happened.

“I want the wonderful people in this industry to know that the patient needs to wear eye protection, and it needs to be ANSI-certified to protect your patients.”
— Jenn Morrone

"Part of me speaking up so loudly is that this has happened before," she said. "So I am going to be the one that speaks out because this can't happen again. I want the wonderful people in this industry to know that the patient needs to wear eye protection, and it needs to be ANSI [American National Standards Institute]-certified to protect your patients."

As she said, not many patients walk into their dentist's office and ask about infection-control procedures. They don't ask the staff if they are following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules.

"I want to reach those people and say, 'Protect yourself,' " she said.

Morrone's Facebook page has been viewed more than 600,000 times since it was launched in June, she noted. On July 8, the anniversary of this terrible event, supporters wore sunglasses all day long to show support and sent in selfies to be posted on her Facebook and Twitter pages.

One of the more inspiring outcomes has been the number of dental offices who have taken note of her situation and made changes.

"I have had an outpouring of letters and photos of offices having new policy procedures implemented," she said. "These letters and emails say that, because of Jenn's Vision, 'We now require 100% of our patients to wear eye protection for every procedure.' "

Morrone has received support from Kimberly Clark and also from the Support Clean Dentistry campaign. She'll be at the Kimberly Clark booth at the 2014 Greater New York Dental Show in late November and early December. In addition, her Facebook page is updated frequently for the latest on the Jenn's Vision campaign.

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