Tear protein interaction with hydrogel contact lenses
The design and synthesis of biomaterials covers a growing number of biomedical applications. The use of biomaterials in biological environment is associated with a number of problems, the most important of which is biocompatabUity. If the implanted biomaterial is not compatible with the environment, it will be rejected by the biological site. This may be manifested in many ways depending on the environment in which it is used. Adsorption of proteins takes place almost instantaneously when a biomaterial comes into contact with most biological fluids. The eye is a unique body site for the study of protein interactions with biomaterials, because of its ease of access and deceptive complexity of the tears. The use of contact lenses for either vision correction and cosmetic reasons or as a route for the controlled drug delivery, has significantly increased in recent years. It is relatively easy to introduce a contact lens Into the tear fluid and remove after a few minutes without surgery or trauma to the patient. A range of analytical techniques were used and developed to measure the proteins absorbed to some existing commercial contact lens materials and also to novel hydrogels synthesised within the research group. Analysis of the identity and quantity of proteins absorbed to biomaterials revealed the importance of many factors on the absorption process. The effect of biomaterial structure, protein nature in terms of size. shape and charge and pH of the environment on the absorption process were examined in order to determine the relative up-take of tear proteins. This study showed that both lysozyme and lactoferrin penetrate the lens matrix of ionic materials. Measurement of the mobility and activity of the protein deposited into the surface and within the matrix of ionic lens materials demonstrated that the mobility is pH dependent and, within the experimental errors, the biological activity of lysozyme remained unchanged after adsorption and desorption. The study on the effect of different monomers copolymerised with hydroxyethyl methacrylate (HEMA) on the protein up-take showed that monomers producing a positive charge on the copolymer can reduce the spoilation with lysozyme. The studies were extended to real cases in order to compare the patient dependent factors. The in-vivo studies showed that the spoilation is patient dependent as well as other factors. Studies on the extrinsic factors such as dye used in colour lenses showed that the addition of colourant affects protein absorption and, in one case, its effect is beneficial to the wearer as it reduces the quantity of the protein absorbed.