A novel plasma etching and emission monitoring system (PEEMS) to assess protein and lipid spoilation for hydrogel contact lenses
The work presents a new method that combines plasma etching with extrinsic techniques to simultaneously measure matrix and surface protein and lipid deposits. The acronym for this technique is PEEMS - Plasma Etching and Emission Monitoring System. Previous work has identified the presence of proteinaceous and lipoidal deposition on the surface of contact lenses and highlighted the probability that penetration of these spoilants will occur. This technique developed here allows unambiguous identification of the depth of penetration of spoilants to be made for various material types. It is for this reason that the technique has been employed in this thesis. The technique is applied as a 'molecular' scalpel, removing known amounts of material from the target. In this case from both the anterior .and posterior surfaces of a 'soft' contact lens. The residual material is then characterised by other analytical techniques such as UV/visible .and fluorescence spectroscopy. Several studies have be.en carried out for both in vivo and in vitro spoilt materials. The analysis and identification of absorbed protein and lipid of the substrate revealed the importance of many factors in the absorption and adsorption process. The effect of the material structure, protein nature (in terms of size, shape and charge) and environment conditions were examined in order to determine the relative uptake of tear proteins. The studies were extended to real cases in order to study the. patient dependent factors and lipoidal penetration.