In a recent study in The Ocular Surface, a research team from Spain and Portugal found most silicone hydrogel contact lens wearers who were exposed to extreme dry environments had diminished ocular surface integrity and an increase in their tear inflammatory status. However, only half of the study participants reported worsening of contact lens wear symptoms.

The investigation included 47 monthly silicone hydrogel lens wearers who were approximately 28 years old. The study group was equally represented by males and females. Participants were evaluated at baseline and again after 90 minutes of extreme dry condition exposure.

The researchers divided the patients into three clusters based on their response. Participants in each cluster showed a significant increase in limbal hyperemia and staining after dry environment exposure. Additionally, the 22 participants in cluster one (46.8%) exhibited a significantly higher worsening of corneal and limbal staining, increased contact lens wear symptoms, reduced epidermal growth factor and increased interleukin (IL)-4 and IL-6 tear levels.

Individuals in cluster two (n=22, 46.8%) showed no changes in symptoms after the environmental exposure. However, the researchers noted a significant increase in cluster two’s IL-12p70, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 and post-exposure tear levels.

The three lens wearers in cluster three (6.4%) mainly showed a significant higher blink rate (78.1 ± 21.7) during exposure to the dry environment.

Additionally, the investigators noted corneal staining and tear IL-12p70 levels were identified as predictors for individuals in cluster one. The study’s findings could help reduce contact lens wear discontinuation and drop out, the researchers noted.

ItziarFernández I, López-Miguel A, Martín-Montañez V. Inflammatory status predicts contact lens discomfort under adverse environmental conditions. The Ocular Surface. August 16, 2020. [Epub ahead of print].