Uptake and Release Phenomena in Contact Lens Care by Silicone Hydrogel Lenses
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Contact lens solutions are highly complex mixtures of biocides (preservatives), surfactants, and other agents designed to disinfect, clean, and wet contact lenses. The commercialization of silicone hydrogel (SiHy) lenses has resulted in unique challenges to the manufacturers of contact lens solutions, because the properties of these materials differ markedly from those seen previously with poly-hydroxyethyl methacrylate-based hydrogels. Historically, hydrogel lens uptake and release of low-molecular weight preservatives such as chlorhexidine and thimerosal were known to result in allergic reactions, resulting in corneal irritation, stinging, conjunctival hyperemia, development of corneal infiltrates, palpebral lid changes, and corneal staining. However, little is known about the interaction of modern care systems with modern soft lens materials. Factors to be considered when evaluating the uptake and release of care components include the water content, charge, relative hydrophobicity, surface treatment, and porosity of the lens material, in conjunction with the concentration, charge/molecule, ionicity in the product matrix, molecular weight, and hydrophobicity of the care component in question. These factors control the sorption of the solution components by lenses, resulting in a variety of differences in the amount of the component taken up into the lens material and the amount and rate of subsequent release onto the ocular surface. Because both natural (ocular) and environmental biota become part of the solution-lens system during regimen use of any lens care product, these extraneously introduced substances should also be considered regarding their potential for uptake and either subsequent release onto the ocular surface or functioning as a scaffold for the adhesion of microbes. This article will review current knowledge concerning these interactions and investigate what clinically observable complications may arise from these interactions. It also reviews whether current methods to determine these interactions could be improved on.
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