Purpose: To measure adhesion forces of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, and Serratia marcescens to a rigid contact lens (CL), standard polypropylene, and Ag-impregnated lens cases using atomic force microscopy and determine bacterial transmission from lens case to CL.
Methods: Adhesion forces of bacterial strains to Ag-impregnated and polypropylene lens cases and a rigid CL were measured using atomic force microscopy. Adhesion forces were used to calculate Weibull distributions, from which transmission probabilities from lens case to CL were derived. Transmission probabilities were compared with actual transmission of viable bacteria from a lens case to the CL in 0.9% NaCl and in an antimicrobial lens care solution.
Results: Bacterial transmission probabilities from polypropylene lens cases based on force analysis coincided well for all strains with actual transmission in 0.9% NaCl. Bacterial adhesion forces on Ag-impregnated lens cases were much smaller than that on polypropylene and CLs, yielding a high probability of transmission. Comparison with actual bacterial transmission indicated bacterial killing due to Ag ions during colony-forming unit transmission from an Ag-impregnated lens case, especially for P. aeruginosa. Transmission of viable bacteria from Ag-impregnated lens cases could be further decreased by use of an antimicrobial lens care solution instead of 0.9% NaCl.
Conclusions: Bacterial transmission probabilities are higher from Ag-impregnated lens cases than from polypropylene lens cases because of small adhesion forces, but this is compensated for by enhanced bacterial killing due to Ag impregnation, especially when in combination with an antimicrobial lens care solution. This calls for a balanced combination of antimicrobial lens care solutions and surface properties of a lens case and CL.