Fewer Signs of Inflammation with Daily Disposable Contact Lenses

Press Release updated: Nov 1, 2017 08:00 EDT

People who wear reusable contact lenses show increased signs of mild inflammation in the eye, compared to those who use daily disposable contact lenses, reports a study in the October issue of Optometry and Vision Science, the official journal of the American Academy of Optometry. The journal is published by Wolters Kluwer.

The difference in “pre-inflammatory” changes might help to explain why switching from reusable to daily disposable contact lenses often reduces symptoms of eye discomfort, according to the pilot study, led by Cecilia Chao, PhD, MOptom, of The State University of New York College of Optometry.

The researchers assessed measures of inflammation in the eyes of 36 long-term contact lens wearers: 22 who wore reusable lenses and 14 who wore daily disposable contact lenses. Most subjects in both groups had no or only mild discomfort or other contact lens-related symptoms.

The reusable contact lens wearers had increased evidence of inflammation, despite the lack of clinical symptoms. A key finding was higher levels of inflammation-promoting (pro-inflammatory) proteins called cytokines in samples of tear fluid.

Subjects who wore reusable contact lenses also had increased cellular changes (metaplasia) on the eye surface—but only in the region covered by contact lenses. In areas not covered by the lens, there was no difference in metaplasia between the reusable and daily disposable contact lens groups.

Symptoms of eye discomfort or dry eye were significantly related to imbalances between certain pro-inflammatory versus anti-inflammatory cytokines. “The balance of proinflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines may be helpful to assess the inflammatory status of the eye,” Dr. Chao and coauthors write. They believe the higher cytokine levels in the reusable lens group might be related to the use of contact lens care solutions.

Inflammation contributes to eye discomfort, which is a common complaint among contact lens wearers. Eye discomfort is a primary reason for discontinuing contact lens wear.

For patients with reusable contact lenses, symptoms of eye discomfort improve after refitting with daily disposable lenses, but it is not fully understood what causes this improvement. The study provides new evidence that contact lens replacement schedule can affect measures of inflammation on the eye surface.

The results suggest that reduction in pre-inflammatory changes might contribute to the improvement in comfort after switching to daily disposable lenses. Dr. Chao and colleagues emphasize the need for further studies to evaluate factors affecting eye discomfort and inflammation—not just contact lens replacement schedule, but also lens material and design.
About Optometry and Vision Science

Optometry and Vision Science, official journal of the American Academy of Optometry, is the most authoritative source for current developments in optometry, physiological optics, and vision science. This frequently cited monthly scientific journal has served primary eye care practitioners for more than 90 years, promoting vital interdisciplinary exchange among optometrists and vision scientists worldwide. Michael Twa, OD, PhD, FAAO, of University of Alabama-Birmingham School of Optometry is Editor-in-Chief of Optometry and Vision Science. The editorial office may be contacted at [email protected]

About the American Academy of Optometry

Founded in 1922, the American Academy of Optometry is committed to promoting the art and science of vision care through lifelong learning. All members of the Academy are dedicated to the highest standards of optometric practice through clinical care, education or research.

Media Contact:     

Jenny Brown
Director, Membership & Communications
American Academy of Optometry
[email protected]

Source: American Academy of Optometry

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About the Author: Carrie Brunner

Carrie Brunner grew up in a small town in northern New Brunswick. She studied chemistry in college, graduated, and married her husband one month later. They were then blessed with two baby boys within the first four years of marriage. Having babies gave their family a desire to return to the old paths – to nourish their family with traditional, homegrown foods; rid their home of toxic chemicals and petroleum products; and give their boys a chance to know a simple, sustainable way of life. They are currently building a homestead from scratch on two little acres in central Texas. There’s a lot to be done to become somewhat self-sufficient, but they are debt-free and get to spend their days living this simple, good life together with their five young children. Carrie writes mostly on provincial stories.
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