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Silicone Allergies and the Eye: Fact or Fiction?

Hall, Brad J. B.Sc.; Jones, Lyndon W. Ph.D.; Dixon, Brian Ph.D.

Eye & Contact Lens: Science & Clinical Practice: January 2014 - Volume 40 - Issue 1 - p 51–57
doi: 10.1097/ICL.0000000000000010
Review Article

Objective: The purpose of this manuscript was to review the evidence concerning the role of an allergic reaction to silicone as the basis for the reported increase in contact lens–associated infiltrates in wearers of silicone hydrogel contact lenses.

Methods: A literature review was undertaken to investigate the antigenic properties of silicone and the causes of contact lens–associated inflammatory reactions.

Results: Immune cells cannot interact with silicone directly but can interact with antigens on these lenses. These antigens could be due to tear film deposits, microbial contamination, or components of care systems used with these lenses.

Conclusions: Inflammatory reactions associated with silicone hydrogel contact lens wear are not caused by an allergic reaction to silicone alone.

Centre for Contact Lens Research, School of Optometry and Vision Science (B.J.H., L.W.J.), and Department of Biology (B.D.), University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

Address correspondence to Brad J. Hall, B.Sc., School of Optometry and Vision Science, University of Waterloo, 200 University Avenue West, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3G1; e-mail: bhall@uwaterloo.ca

Over the past 3 years L.W.J. has received research support or honoraria from the following companies: Abbott Medical Optics, Advanced Vision Research, Alcon, AlgiPharma, Allergan, Bausch & Lomb, CIBA Vision, CooperVision, Essilor, J&J Vision Care, Oculus, TearScience, Visioneering Technologies. The other authors have no funding or conflicts of interest to disclose.

Accepted October 23, 2013

© 2014 Contact Lens Association of Ophthalmologists, Inc.