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C Giasson, J A Bonanno; Corneal epithelial and aqueous humor acidification during in vivo contact lens wear in rabbits.. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 1994;35(3):851-861.
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PURPOSE: Based on contact lens-induced stromal acidification of the cornea, it has been suggested that the corneal epithelial and endothelial cells also become acidotic during contact lens wear. This alleged acidification may have a role in altered cell appearance and metabolism during contact lens wear. This study investigated the effects of anoxia, carbon dioxide retention, and contact lens gas transmissibility on the epithelial and aqueous humor pH in living rabbits. METHODS: Epithelial intracellular pH (pHi) and aqueous humor pH were fluorophotometrically measured with a pH sensitive-dye (BCECF) during contact lens wear or exposure to various gas mixtures. RESULTS: Polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) lens wear acidified epithelial cells by preventing CO2 efflux and by inducing hypoxia. Increasing lens oxygen transmissibility decreased epithelial acidification. After initiation of rigid, gas-permeable (RGP) lens wear or CO2-air exposure, pHi dropped transiently and then recovered partially. This recovery of pHi was not observed during anoxia, whether induced by PMMA lens wear or exposure to 100% N2. The aqueous humor also acidified during PMMA lens wear, a phenomenon not observed during RGP lens wear. Changes in aqueous pH were smaller, slower, and delayed when compared to their epithelial counterparts. CONCLUSIONS: Hypoxic contact lens wear acidifies the corneal epithelium and aqueous humor. The aqueous humor pH change indicates a probable endothelial acidification during hypoxic contact lens wear; the pH changes are caused by two separate and additive effects, CO2 retention and hypoxic acidosis. Increases in the oxygen transmissibility of the lens decrease the cellular acidosis, which might minimize cellular complications arising from contact lens wear. We estimate that a lens with an oxygen transmissibility (Dk/L) of 300 x 10(-11) (cm/sec)(ml O2/ml x mm Hg) is needed to prevent epithelial pHi changes in the open eye. In contrast, lenses with Dk/L as low as 18 x 10(-9) (cm/sec)(ml O2/ml x mm Hg) can prevent aqueous humor pH changes.
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