The ex vivo wettability of soft contact lenses
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PURPOSE: To investigate the ex vivo wettability of Etafilcon A contact lenses over an eight hour period of wear and observe the influence of surfactant pre-treatment. METHODS: Etafilcon A hydrogel lenses, comprising poly[2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate-co-methacrylic acid] and 58% water, were soaked for 12 hours in either 0.9% saline (control) or a 1% aqueous solution of poloxamine 1107 (treated). The advancing and receding contact angles were subsequently determined ex vivo after various periods of wear in six adapted contact lens wearers using a single-blind, randomised protocol. Contact angles were measured with a dynamic contact angle tensiometer, using the Wilhelmy plate technique. Patient comfort scores were recorded and the static surface tensions of the probe fluids assessed. RESULTS: Control lenses exhibited no change in wetting angles over time, indicating a lack of surface modification by components within the tear film. Treated lenses exhibited a significantly reduced advancing angle (p < 0.001) and hysteresis angle (p < 0.001) when compared with control lenses. In addition, treated lenses were consistently rated as being more comfortable than control lenses (p = 0.04). CONCLUSIONS: This study has shown clearly that new Etafilcon A lenses do not exhibit significant changes in wettability during the initial four hour wearing period. Pre-treatment of such lenses with a polymeric surfactant results in wetting of the lenses due to the adsorption of surfactant. The surfactant is retained by the lens for at least eight hours of wear, resulting in significant improvements in subjective comfort, especially over the first 30 minutes of wear.
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