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Oxygen Tension Beneath Scleral Lenses of Different Clearances

Giasson, Claude J.; Morency, Jeanne; Melillo, Marc; Michaud, Langis

doi: 10.1097/OPX.0000000000001038
Original Articles

Purpose To evaluate the relative partial pressure in oxygen (pO2) at the corneal surface under Boston XO2 scleral lenses (SL) fitted with targeted clearances of 200 and 400 μm (SL200 and SL400).

Methods During this prospective study, the right eyes of eight normal subjects were fitted with SL200 and SL400. Clearance, validated after 5 minutes of wear with an optical coherence tomograph, was used with lens thicknesses to calculate transmissibility and estimate pO2. Corneal pO2s were measured with an oxygen electrode after 5 minutes of (1) corneal exposure to calibrating gases with various pO2 or of (2) SL wear. Decays in pO2 were modeled to an exponential. Linear regression between exponent k of these decays and calibrating gas pO2s allowed for the calculation of corneal pO2 under SL. Differences between pO2s beneath SL200 and SL400 were tested with a mixed ANOVA.

Results The estimated transmissibility based on thicknesses and clearances (239.7 ± 34.7; 434.5 ± 33.2 μm) predicted a corneal pO2 of 8.52 ± 0.51 and 6.37 ± 0.28% for SL200 and SL400. These values were close to measured pO2: 9.07 ± 0.86 and 6.19 ± 0.87% (mean ± SEM) (P < .05) for SL200 and SL400, respectively. Both pO2 measurements fall short of the theoretical values needed to prevent hypoxia during lens wear (9.9% and above).

Conclusions As shown in vivo for the first time, an 18-mm scleral lens fitted with a 400-μm clearance reduces the oxygen tension available to the cornea by 30% compared to a similar lens fitted with a 200-μm clearance after 5 minutes of wear.

*OD, PhD

BEng, MScA


School of Optometry, Université de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada (CJG, JM, MM, LM); and the Centre de Recherche en Organogénèse Expérimentale de l’Université Laval/LOEX et du Centre Hospitalier Universitaire (CHU) de Québec, Hôpital du Saint-Sacrement, Québec, Quebec, Canada (CJG).

Claude J. Giasson, School of Optometry, Université de Montréal, P.O. Box 6128, Downtown Branch, Montreal, Quebec H3C 3J7 Canada, e-mail:

© 2017 American Academy of Optometry