Using a micropolarographic system, we measured the responses of six human corneas to nine oxygen exposure conditions: to air (continuous open-eye) with no contact lens in place, and to eight interblink intervals (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 300 s durations) with an oxygen impermeable lens in place. The corneal oxygen uptake rates immediately following each of those conditions were direct indices of tear bulk-flow exchange under a rigid contact lens as an oxygen route. Greatest efficiencies in reducing corneal oxygen demand were associated with the two highest blink frequencies examined (namely, for interblink intervals of 2 s or less). Even at those frequencies oxygen demands ranging from 4 to 6 times the open-eye, non-wearing, baseline rate for each eye typically occurred, clearly justifying the need for a supplementary oxygenation route, for example, directly through rigid contact lens materials having inherently high oxygen permeabilities.
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