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Relationship of Water Content With Silicon and Fluorine Contents of Silicone-Hydrogel Contact Lens Materials

Dupre, Terin E., Ph.D.; Benjamin, William J., O.D., Ph.D.

doi: 10.1097/ICL.0000000000000527

Objectives: The relationship between water (W) content and silicon (Si) content of silicone-hydrogel (SiHy) contact lens materials was inspected using identical methodologies, equipment, and operators for materials composing 16 types of commercially available SiHy contact lenses. Fluorine (F) content was included in the analysis for the three materials also containing a fluoropolymer. One type of lens consisted of a bulk SiHy material coated with thin layers of conventional hydrogel.

Methods: SiHy materials were obtained in the form of 16 contact lens brands purchased on the open market in a common range of refractive powers from −3 to +6 D in single lots. All test lenses were equilibrated at room temperature in a standard saline recommended in the American National Standards Institute Z80.20-2016 and International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 18369-4:2017 standards. W content was obtained gravimetrically, in %, according to those standards for 16 lenses of each SiHy material. Si content was determined in % using inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy for four digested lenses of each material. F content was determined in % using an ion-selective electrode for four combusted lenses of each of the three fluorinated SiHy materials. W and Si contents of the bulk SiHy material of the coated lens were estimated by computational exclusion of the hydrogel layers.

Results: The linear coefficients of determination (R2, n=16) were −0.7576 (relating mean dry Si content [n=4] to mean W content [n=16]) and −0.8819 (relating mean hydrated Si content [n=4] to mean W content [n=16]). When the 4 SiHy materials that were fluorinated or coated were excluded from the analysis, the R2 values (n=12) were −0.8869 and −0.9263, respectively. When F contents and the coating were added to the assessments, the linear coefficients of determination (R2, n=16) became −0.8948 (relating mean dry [Si+F] content to mean W content) and −0.9397 (relating mean hydrated [Si+F] content to mean W content).

Conclusions: There is a fundamental negative linear relationship between Si and W contents for SiHy contact lens materials above 35% W content that is followed when F content and hydrogel coatings are empirically added to the analysis below 35% W content. The relationship was tightest for hydrated (Si+F) content and W content, for which the regression equation had an R2 of −0.9397: (Si+F)=−0.3073 (W)+22.148. The relationship between (Si+F) and W therefore seems to be based on composition rather than structure of available SiHy contact lens materials.

Vision Science Research Center (T.E.D., W.J.B.), University of Alabama, Birmingham, Birmingham, AL; and Material Performance Assessments, LLC (W.J.B.), Hoover, AL.

Address correspondence to William J. Benjamin, O.D., Ph.D., 937 Tulip Poplar Lane, Hoover, AL 35244-1638; e-mail:

The authors have no funding or conflicts of interest to disclose.

T. E. Dupre participated in the study design, performed or supervised the measurements, participated in the analysis of the data, and contributed to the writing of this article. W. J. Benjamin participated in the study design, analysis of the data, and writing of the article. Both authors have approved this article for submission to and publication by the journal, Eye & Contact Lens.

Impact statement: Of interest to polymer chemists, surface scientists, and clinicians prescribing contact lenses, this article conceptually organizes commercially available silicone-hydrogel contact lens materials. This was done by exposing a fundamental negative linear relationship between water content and the combination of silicon and fluorine contents.

W. J. Benjamin is a Professor Emeritus of the University of Alabama at Birmingham and President of Material Performance Assessments, LLC, which has since October 1, 2014, performed laboratory and clinical material assessments by contract for many sponsors inside and outside the contact lens field.

Accepted April 24, 2018

© 2019 Contact Lens Association of Ophthalmologists, Inc.