Silicone hydrogel (SiH) lenses offer many physiological advantages for daily wear (DW) in addition to the continuous-wear modality for which they were originally developed. The purpose of this study was to investigate the clinical performance and physiological responses in a group of successful long-term wearers of conventional hydrogel lenses when refitted with DW SiH contact lenses.
Eighty-seven successful soft lens wearers (8.4 ± 4.7 years of prior lens wear) participated in this study. Bulbar and limbal hyperemia were subjectively graded and digitally photographed for subsequent masked objective evaluation. Subjective symptoms were scored using visual analog scales. In addition, refractive error, corneal curvature, and corneal thickness were measured. All subjects were refitted with Focus Night & Day (lotrafilcon A) SiH lenses; however, to reduce the potential for bias, they were informed that they were being randomly assigned to wear either low oxygen permeability (Dk) lenses or high Dk SiH lenses and were “masked” as to their lens assignment. Subjects returned after 1 week, 1 month, and 2 months of DW, at which time all gradings, photographs, and measurements were repeated. End-of-day subjective symptoms were also graded periodically during the study.
Ninety-three percent of subjects were successfully refitted. Both objective and subjective evaluations showed that bulbar and limbal hyperemia decreased significantly in all quadrants during the study (p < 0.001), particularly for those subjects with greater baseline hyperemia (p < 0.001). Subjects reported a concurrent reduction in end-of-day dryness and improved end-of-day comfort compared with their habitual lenses (p < 0.001). No significant changes in refractive error, tarsal papillary response, corneal curvature, or corneal thickness were found during the study.
Hyperemia in contact lens wearers may be attributed to a number of factors, including hypoxia. Refitting existing low Dk lens wearers with SiH lenses on a DW basis can result in a decrease in hyperemia, which may be significant for some subjects and also results in improvements in symptoms of dryness and discomfort.