Biochemical markers and contact lens wear
The project objective was to develop a reliable selection procedure to match contact lens materials with individual wearers by the identification of a biochemical marker for assessment of in-eye performance of contact lenses. There is a need for such a procedure as one of the main reasons for contact lens wearers ceasing wearing contact lenses is poor end of day comfort i.e. the lenses become intolerable to the wearer as the day progresses. The selection of an optimal material for individual wearers has the potential benefit to reduce drop Qut, hence increasing the overall contact lens population, and to improve contact lens comfort for established wearers. Using novel analytical methods and statistical techniques, we were able to investigate the interactions between the composition of the tear film and of the biofilm deposited on the contact lenses and contact lens performance. The investigations were limited to studying the lipid components of the tear film; the lipid layer, which plays a key role in preventing evaporation and stabilising the tear film, has been reported to be significantly thinner and of different mixing characteristics during contact lens wear. Different lipid families were found to influence symptomatology, in vivo tear film structure and stability as well as ocular integrity. Whereas the symptomatology was affected by both the tear film lipid composition and the nature of the lipid deposition, the structure of the tear film and its stability were mainly influenced by the tear film lipid composition. The ocular integrity also appeared to be influenced by the nature of the lipid deposition. Potential markers within the lipid species have been identified and could be applied as follows: When required in order to identify a problematic wearer or to match the contact lens material to the contact lens wearer, tear samples collected by the clinician could be dispatched to an analytical laboratory where lipid analysis could be carried out by HPLC. A colorimetric kit based on the lipid markers could also be developed and used by clinician directly in the practice; such a kit would involve tear sampling and classification according to the colour into "Problem", "Border line" and "Good" contact lens wearers groups. A test kit would also have wider scope for marketing in other areas such as general dry-eye pathology.