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The Impact of Tear Film Components on In Vitro Lipid Uptake

Lorentz, Holly*; Heynen, Miriam; Trieu, Diana; Hagedorn, Sarah J.; Jones, Lyndon§

doi: 10.1097/OPX.0b013e318255ddc8
Original Articles

Purpose. To analyze the influence of various tear film components on in vitro deposition of two lipids (cholesterol and phosphatidylcholine) on three contact lens materials.

Methods. Etafilcon A, balafilcon A, and senofilcon A were incubated in four different incubation solutions for 3 or 14 days: an artificial tear solution containing lipids and proteins, a protein tear solution containing proteins and the lipid of interest, a lipid tear solution containing lipids and no proteins, and a single lipid tear solution containing the lipid of interest only. Each incubation solution contained one of the two radiolabeled lipids: 14C-cholesterol (C) or 14C-phosphatidylcholine (PC). After soaking, lenses were removed from the incubation solution, the lipids were extracted and quantified using a beta counter, and masses of lipid were calculated using standard calibration curves.

Results. This experiment examined several different parameters influencing lipid deposition on contact lenses, including lens material, length of incubation, and the composition of the incubation solution. Overall, lipid deposited differently on different lens materials (p < 0.0005), with the order of deposition most commonly being balafilcon > senofilcon > etafilcon. Incubation solution had a large impact on how much lipid was deposited (p < 0.00001), although cholesterol and phosphatidylcholine demonstrated different deposition patterns. Lipid deposition after 14 days of incubation was consistently greater than after 3 days (p < 0.02).

Conclusions. This in vitro study demonstrates that C and PC deposition are cumulative over time and that silicone hydrogel materials deposit more lipid than group IV conventional hydrogel materials. It also clearly demonstrates that deposition of C and PC is influenced by the composition of the incubation solution and that in vitro models must use more physiologically relevant incubation solutions that mimic the natural tear film if in vitro data is to be extrapolated to the in vivo situation.

*MSc, PhD



§PhD, FCOptom, FAAO

Centre for Contact Lens Research, School of Optometry, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

Received November 16, 2011; accepted February 10, 2012.

Holly Lorentz Centre for Contact Lens Research School of Optometry University of Waterloo 200, University Avenue West Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3G1 e-mail:

© 2012 American Academy of Optometry