Measuring the Modulus of Silicone Hydrogel Contact Lenses
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PURPOSE: The purpose of this study is to demonstrate a novel method for measuring the modulus of contact lenses in their as-received, variable-thickness form and to determine whether modulus varies with location within commercial lenses and whether it is dependent on lens geometry and temperature. METHODS: The thickness profiles of lenses having powers from -8 diopters (D) to +4 D were measured using a Rehder electronic thickness gauge. Strip-shaped specimens having a width of 5.5 mm were then cut from the lenses. Graphite particles were sprinkled on the specimen surface so that its motions could be tracked using digital image-correlation techniques. The specimens were mounted in a BioTester test system using BioRakes (rather than clamps) and stretched uniaxially until all parts of the lens between the attachment points had elongated by at least 10%. This procedure allowed local modulus values to be determined at 110 locations over the surface of each lens and any property variations within the lenses to be characterized. Tests were performed at 5, 23, and 37°C. RESULTS: Material modulus was found to be essentially constant within any given lens and was independent of the optical power of the lens. Young's Modulus values ranged from 0.3 to 1.9 MPa, depending on the lens manufacturer and product, and some lens materials showed a decrease in modulus with temperature. For the materials tested, those with lower water content had a tendency to exhibit higher moduli. CONCLUSIONS: Testing of the kind reported here is important for assessing the efficacy of current and proposed contact lens materials and designs, especially if such designs make use of variable properties to enhance function or fit.
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