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The Low Volume Eye Test (LVET) is a modification of the Draize rabbit eye test and is used to assess the eye irritancy potential of household detergents and cleaning products as well as their main ingredient classes.

A retrospective validation study of the method was conducted by EURL ECVAM between 2006 and 2009.

After peer review by ESAC, the LVET method was NOT recommended for prospective use (i.e. to generate new data). Existing data, however, could be used for classification purposes and as part of wider testing strategies involving alternative methods.

ESAC also recommended that no additional testing with the method should be performed and that the test should not be further developed or validated.

Read more about the Low Volume Eye Test (LVET) method on ICCVAM-NICEATM website here.

Eye irritation

[collapsed]In the context of this test method, eye irritation refers to all of the ocular effects that may occur from exposure to household detergents and cleaning products (or their ingredients).

This is because it involves exposing rabbits to such products/ingredients directly via the eye and specifically the cornea. The test is a direct proxy of exposure in humans and mimics accidental splashes with detergents and cleaning products.[/collapse]

Low Volume Eye Test (LVET)

[collapsed]LVET is a minor modification of the classical Draize eye irritation test. It differs only in terms of two aspects of exposure. Firstly, the LVET uses only a tenth of the volume (10μl) and weight of solids (10mg) of that used in the Draize test.

Secondly, both solids and liquids are applied directly on the cornea without subsequent forced closure of the eyelids. This is in contrast to the Draize test where the test material is instilled in the conjunctival sac of the rabbit eye. All other parameters such as exposure time and visual scoring of effects are the same.

The test has been used widely by industry to benchmark finished products.[/collapse]

Animal testing replacement

[collapsed]The LVET method is an animal-based method of testing and in comparison to the Draize test is only a minor modification/refinement.

However, based on the outcome of the retrospective validation study (see below) and subsequent ESAC recommendation to NOT use the method for prospective studies, a significant reduction in the use of animals in this type of testing regime is likely if the recommendation is widely accepted and followed-up on.[/collapse]

Validation study

[collapsed]The LVET method was subjected to a retrospective validation study by EURL ECVAM following submission of data relating to the method and this specifically concerned household detergents and cleaning products (as well as their main ingredients).

The submission was evaluated by EURL ECVAM in 2006, and after requested amendments had been performed, the data set underwent independent peer review by ESAC over the period April 2007 to June 2009.[/collapse]

Validation study outcomes

[collapsed]The main conclusions of the review were that LVET data correlated with effects observed in man, in terms of accidental splashes, poison control centres and clinics. To a lesser extent, data from clinical exposure of human volunteers to substances in the 'mild' irritant range were also included and supported this view.

According to the ESAC statement (see below), the rationale for the test and it modifications (in comparison to the Draize rabbit eye test) are reasonable in terms of the products and ingredients it is designed to assess.

However, the method does not account for other possible routes of exposure. Accidental exposure to pesticides are singled out as a particular scenario where the method's exposure settings do not appear appropriate.

The ESAC statement also details a number of ways where LVET data may be considered as part of a weight of evidence approach.[/collapse]

EURL ECVAM recommendations

[collapsed]Based on the evidence reviewed by EURL ECVAM and ESAC, the LVET method is NOT recommended for use in prospective studies.

While acknowledging the potential usefulness of data from the LVET test, very limited improvements in terms animal welfare (in comparison to the Draize test) were or are envisaged by ESAC.

On that basis, the use of the method and indeed its further development were not recommended by ESAC.

However, use of data from previous studies in future validation work relating to household detergents and cleaning products (and their ingredients) should be considered as part of wider testing strategies.[/collapse]