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Short term wear of high Dk soft contact lenses does not alter corneal epithelial cell size or viability
  1. Fiona Stapleton,
  2. Suzie Kasses,
  3. Shirley Bolis,
  4. Lisa Keay
  1. Cornea and Contact Lens Research Unit (CCLRU), School of Optometry and Cooperative Research Centre for Eye Research and Technology (CRCERT), the University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  1. Dr Fiona Stapleton, CRCERT, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, 2052, AustraliaF.Stapleton{at}


BACKGROUND/AIMS Current contact lenses (CLs) when worn on an extended wear basis cause corneal epithelial alterations. The aim of this study was to evaluate changes in corneal epithelial cell morphology and physiology following short term (3 months) wear of highly oxygen permeable CLs and to compare this with disposable CLs.

METHODS Subjects were wearers of highly oxygen permeable CLs (n=11, wearing CLs on a 30 night schedule), disposable CL users (n=6, wearing CLs on a 6 night schedule), and non-CL wearers (n=20). Mean CL wear experience was 3 months. Epithelial cells were harvested using corneal cytology and were stained using acridine orange and ethidium bromide. Epithelial cell size and viability were determined.

RESULTS The majority of epithelial cells recovered were non-viable (71%), and the mean longest cell diameter was 38 (SD 8) μm. Disposable CLs caused an increase in cell size (42 (7) μm) compared with both non-wear (39 (7) μm, p=0.01) and wear of highly oxygen permeable CLs (37 (10) μm, p=0.0049). There was no difference in cell viability between groups.

CONCLUSIONS Extended wear of disposable CLs caused an 8% increase in cell diameter in harvested corneal epithelial cells following 3 months of CL wear. Cells harvested following 3 months' wear of highly oxygen permeable CLs were indistinguishable from those recovered from non-CL wearers.

  • corneal epithelium
  • contact lenses
  • cytology
  • cell viability
  • apoptosis
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