Determination of Microdot Stromal Degenerations Within Corneas of Long-term Contact Lens Wearers by Confocal Microscopy

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Abstract

Purpose.

To ascertain whether a relationship exists between the presence of microdot deposits within the corneal stroma of long-term contact lens wearers as seen by confocal microscopy and the contact lens wear time, material, or other patient variables.

Methods.

Thirty-six myopic patients with a 15- to 43-year history of hard, rigid gas-permeable, or soft hydrogel contact lens wear and 12 age-matched emmetropic or spectacle-corrected myopic volunteers were included in this study. The numerical density and size of microdot deposits within the anterior, mid, and posterior stroma were determined with the confocal microscope, and the data were subjected to multiple regression statistical analysis.

Results.

Microdot deposits were encountered throughout the entire depth of the corneal stroma in all contact lens wearers. None of the control subjects showed microdot deposits. The numerical densities and the size range of microdots were similar in each of the stromal layers (anterior, mid, and posterior), with total mean values (± SD) for each parameter being 65.1 × 103 ± 26.9 × 103 dots/mm3 (range, 21.4 × 103 to 121.1 × 103 dots/mm3) and 3.04 ± 0.92 μm (range, 1.5–5.0 μm), respectively.

Conclusions.

Microdot deposits may represent granules of lipofuscinlike material within the corneal stroma of long-term contact lens wearers, formed as a result of chronic oxygen deprivation and chronic microtrauma to the cornea. No one in the control group showed microdot deposits. Among the independent variables, soft contact lens wear time had the most profound influence on numerical microdot density and size in our statistical equations.

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