Purpose: To estimate the prevalence of self-reported “sensitive eyes” (SEs) in soft contact lens (CL) wearers, evaluate the clinical characteristics of patients with SEs, and examine the effect of refitting them with silicone hydrogel lenses.
Methods: After self-assessment, 2154 CL wearers were separated into SE and non-SE patients. Demographics, biometric data, wearing time, symptoms, and signs were compared between the two populations. Sixty-three SE patients were randomized into senofilcon A (senA) lenses and 65 into a non–senA arm (lotrafilcon B, omafilcon A, and balafilcon A lenses). The performance of senA lenses was compared against habitual and non-senA lenses 2 weeks later.
Results: A total of 12.2% of CL wearers reported SEs with their habitual CLs. No significant differences were noticed between SE and non-SE patients in sex, age, or refraction. The prevalence of dryness (43 vs 19%, p < 0.0001), irritation (25 vs 11%, p < 0.0001), redness (20 vs 6%, p < 0.0001), and stinging (6 vs 1%, p < 0.0001) was higher in SE patients. Average wearing time (13.0 vs 14.1 hours, p < 0.0001) was lower in this group. Limbal/bulbar hyperemia and corneal/conjunctival staining were not significantly different between the two populations. Senofilcon A increased the number of patients reporting no dryness (habitual vs senA, 20 vs 44%, p < 0.0003), irritation (22 vs 37%, p = 0.015), redness (52 vs 76%, p =0.009) and stinging (58 vs 77%, p = 0.012) but did not significantly affect clinical signs. Senofilcon A was significantly more efficient than non-senA lenses in improving dryness (scale of 0 to 3: senA vs non-senA, 0.64 vs 1.02, p = 0.0056), irritation (0.72 vs 1.16, p = 0.0015), and stinging (0.18 vs 0.53, p = 0.0049).
Conclusions: A substantial proportion of CL wearers report SEs with their habitual lenses. These patients are characterized by a high prevalence of additional symptoms, which are not reflected in clinical signs. Senofilcon A, or lenses with similar properties, may help reduce these symptoms in SE patients.