Human Corneal Epithelial Cell Shedding and Fluorescein Staining in Response to Silicone Hydrogel Lenses and Contact Lens Disinfecting Solutions
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PURPOSE: A pilot study was conducted to evaluate human corneal epithelial cell shedding in response to wearing a silicone hydrogel contact lens/solution combination inducing corneal staining. The nature of ex vivo collected cells staining with fluorescein was also examined. METHODS: A contralateral eye study was conducted in which up to eight participants were unilaterally exposed to a multipurpose contact lens solution/silicone hydrogel lens combination previously shown to induce corneal staining (renu® fresh™ and balafilcon A; test eye), with the other eye using a combination of balafilcon A soaked in a hydrogen peroxide care system (Clear Care®; control eye). Lenses were worn for 2, 4 or 6 hours. Corneal staining was graded after lens removal. The Ocular Surface Cell Collection Apparatus was used to collect cells from the cornea and the contact lens. RESULTS: In the test eye, maximum solution-induced corneal staining (SICS) was observed after 2 hours of lens wear (reducing significantly by 4 hours; p < 0.001). There were significantly more cells collected from the test eye after 4 hours of lens wear when compared to the control eye and the collection from the test eye after 2 hours (for both; n = 5; p < 0.001). The total cell yield at 4 hours was 813 ± 333 and 455 ± 218 for the test and control eyes, respectively (N = 5, triplicate, p = 0.003). A number of cells were observed to have taken up the fluorescein dye from the initial fluorescein instillation. Confocal microscopy of fluorescein-stained cells revealed that fluorescein was present throughout the cell cytoplasm and was retained in the cells for many hours after recovery from the corneal surface. CONCLUSION: This pilot study indicates that increased epithelial cell shedding was associated with a lens-solution combination which induces SICS. Our data provides insight into the transient nature of the SICS reaction and the nature of fluorescein staining observed in SICS.
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