In vitro and ex vivo wettability of hydrogel contact lenses
The wettability of contact lenses has become an area of intense research, with the belief that the more "hydrophilic" or wettable the lens surface is, the more comfortable the lens may be, as the posterior surface of the eyelid will move more smoothly over it, hence increasing comfort. <br /><br /> There are many ways to assess the wettability of a given material, namely sessile drop,<sup>1</sup> captive bubble <sup>2</sup> or Wilhelmy plate. <sup>3</sup> This thesis used the sessile drop method to determine the surface wettability of various hydrogel contact lens materials, by measuring the advancing contact angle made between the lens surface and a pre-determined volume of HPLC-grade water. This was followed by measuring the surface wettability following periods in which the lens materials were soaked in various contact lens care regimens. Further studies determined wettability of lens materials after various periods of in-eye wear and finally a study was undertaken to evaluate if a novel biological technique could be used to differentiate proteins that deposit on hydrogel lens materials that may affect wettability and cause discomfort. <br /><br /> A variety of hydrogel lenses, taken directly from their packaging and after soaking in various care regimens, were analyzed to determine their sessile drop advancing contact angles, in vitro. These studies indicated that poly-2-hydroxyethylmethacrylate (pHEMA)-based lenses are inherently more wettable than silicone-based lenses, unless they have a surface treatment that completely covers the hydrophobic siloxane groups. Additionally, certain combinations of lens materials and care regimens produce inherently more wettable surfaces when measured in vitro. <br /><br /> Suitable methods to assess contact lens wettability ex vivo, or after subjects had worn lenses for set periods of time, were developed. It was determined that using latex gloves to remove lenses had no impact upon the lens surface wettability and that rinsing of the lens surface after removal from the eye was required to determine the wettability of the underlying polymer. <br /><br /> The final wettability studies involved an analysis of various lens materials from clinical studies conducted within the Centre for Contact Lens Research (CCLR). These studies investigated differences in wettability between silicone hydrogel lenses manufactured from differing polymers and variations in ex vivo wettability of several combinations of lens materials and solutions, worn for varying periods of time. <br /><br /> A novel method to investigate proteins extracted from lenses using 2D-Difference in Gel Electrophoresis (DIGE) found that this technique could be used to analyze proteins extracted from contact lenses. The data obtained showed that there was no difference between a group of subjects who were symptomatic of lens-induced dryness or a control group, and that care solutions had a minimal influence on the pattern of deposition seen. <br /><br /> The overall conclusion of these studies is that hydrogel lens wettability is affected by the polymer composition and that care regimen components can modify the surface wettability.