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The Role of Soft Contact Lens Wear on Meibomian Gland Morphology and Function

Uçakhan, Ömür M.D.; Arslanturk-Eren, Mehtap M.D.

doi: 10.1097/ICL.0000000000000572

Purpose: To evaluate the impact of soft contact lens (CL) wear on the morphology and function of the meibomian glands (MG).

Methods: One hundred seventy-three eyes of 87 soft CL wearers and 103 eyes of 55 age-matched healthy volunteers were included into this study. The patients were divided into 3 groups according to the total duration of lens wear: less than 3 years, 3 to 7 years, and more than 7 years. Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI) scores, slitlamp biomicroscopy findings, fluorescein staining of the ocular surface, tear film break-up time (BUT), Schirmer I test, and meibography findings were recorded in all patient eyes and were compared with controls.

Results: The mean meiboscores of the upper and lower eyelids were significantly higher in CL wearers compared with controls (P<0.05). The mean BUT and the mean MG expressibility were significantly lower, whereas the mean OSDI score, corneal staining scores, percentage of partial/complete gland loss, and percentage of thickened and curled MG in upper/lower lids were statistically significantly higher in CL wearers (P<0.05). Meiboscores were significantly higher in patients with a total lens wear duration of more than 3 years compared to those with less than 3 years of lens wear for both upper/lower lids (P<0.05). The earliest morphological change in the MG of CL wearers was MG thickening, and this parameter was the only meibography finding that had the highest diagnostic ability for MG dysfunction.

Conclusion: Soft CL wear causes significant morphological and functional changes in MG with thickening of MG presenting an early diagnostic finding of MG dysfunction on meibography.

Department of Ophthalmology, Ankara University Faculty of Medicine, Ankara, Turkey.

Address correspondence to Ömür Uçakhan, M.D., Department of Ophthalmology, Ankara University Faculty of Medicine, Mamak Caddesi, Cebeci, Ankara 06340, Turkey; e-mail:

The author has no funding or conflicts of interest to disclose.

This study was supported in part by a grant from the Ankara University.

Accepted November 12, 2018

© 2019 Contact Lens Association of Ophthalmologists, Inc.