The tear film and contact lens wear
Contact lenses have become a popular method of vision correction for millions of people globally. As with all devices designed for use within the body, interactions occur between the implanted material and the surrounding biological fluid. A common complaint of lens wearers is that they often experience symptoms of dry eye whilst wearing lenses. This sensation is often heightened towards the end of the day. Through the course of this study, various analytical techniques have been utilised including one dimensional electrophoresis and Western Blotting to study the protein profiles of tear samples. By studying the tears of non-contact lens wearers, it was possible to analyse what could be considered normal, healthy, individuals. A clinical study was also undertaken which followed a population of individuals from the neophyte stage to one whereby they were accustomed lens wearers. Tears were monitored at regular intervals throughout the course of this study and worn contact lenses were also analysed for proteins that had been deposited both on and within the lens. Contact lenses disrupt the tear film in a physical manner by their very presence. They are also thought to cause the normal protein profile to deviate from what would be considered normal. The tear film deposits proteins and lipids onto and within the lens. The lens may therefore be depriving the tear film of certain necessary components. The ultimate aim of this thesis was to discover how, and to what extent, lenses affected tear proteins and if there were any proteins in the tear fluid that had the potential to be used as biochemical markers. Should this be achievable it may be possible to identify those individuals who were more likely to become intolerant lens wearers. This study followed the changes taking place to the tear film as an effect of wearing contact lenses. Twenty-eight patients wore two different types of silicone hydrogel lenses in both a daily wear and a continuous wear regime. The tear protein profiles of the lens-wearers were compared with a control group of non-lens wearing individuals. The considerable amount of data that was generated enabled the clearly observable changes to the four main tear proteins to be monitored.