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Blanka Golebiowski, Eric B. Papas, Fiona Stapleton; Corneal and Conjunctival Sensory Function: The Impact on Ocular Surface Sensitivity of Change from Low to High Oxygen Transmissibility Contact Lenses. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2012;53(3):1177-1181. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.11-8416.
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Deprivation of oxygen to the ocular surface during contact lens wear has been implicated in the alteration of sensory function. This study investigates whether increasing oxygen availability through discontinuation of contact lens wear or transfer into highly oxygen transmissible (high Dk/t) lenses leads to a change in corneal or conjunctival sensitivity.
Twenty-seven long-term extended wearers of low Dk/t soft contact lenses ceased lens wear for 1 week and were refitted with high Dk/t silicone hydrogel lenses. A control group of 25 nonwearers matched for age and sex was also recruited. Central corneal and inferior conjunctival sensitivity were measured using an air-jet aesthesiometer. Threshold was determined using a staircase technique. Measurements were taken during low Dk/t lens wear; after 1 week of no wear; and after 1, 3, 6, and 12 months of high Dk/t lens wear. Measurements were carried out on one occasion on the nonwearers.
Corneal sensitivity decreased 1 week after discontinuation of low Dk/t lenses and no further change in sensitivity occurred with high Dk/t lens wear. Conjunctival sensitivity did not change over the same time frame. Ocular surface sensitivity in long-term low Dk/t soft lens wearers was similar to that of nonwearers. Sensitivity was higher in females than males in the nonwearers, but not in the lens-wearing group. An interaction of sex on change in conjunctival threshold was found in the lens wearers.
These findings indicate that factors other than oxygen availability alone determine sensitivity of the ocular surface. Silicone hydrogel contact lenses appear to have only a minor impact on ocular surface sensitivity in previous lens wearers.
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