Contact lens discomfort continues to be reported as the primary reason for soft lens discontinuation, regardless of new modalities and materials. The purpose of this analysis of comfort related data from a series of clinical studies was to review whether there was a difference between symptomatic and asymptomatic habitual lens wearers' comfort responses over the course of the day.Methods:
Data from five independent non-dispensing clinical studies were pooled and analysed. Participants in these studies were assigned to one of two groups depending on whether they were classified as symptomatic or asymptomatic contact lens wearers according to a modified Subjective Evaluation of Symptoms of Dryness (SESOD) questionnaire. Masked participants were randomised to wear either a hydrogel or a silicone hydrogel contact lens and their ocular comfort was rated using a visual analogue scale on insertion and 2-hourly during an 8-hour period of a single lens wearing day.Results:
Data from 103 participants were used, 58 in the symptomatic group and 45 in the asymptomatic group as determined by the SESOD questionnaire. There was no effect of lens material on comfort (p = 0.43). However, there was a significant interaction between symptoms and time. The difference in mean comfort between the symptomatic and asymptomatic group was significant at each time point (p < 0.05). However, comfort did not vary significantly over the day for the asymptomatic group (p = 0.87), whereas, there was a significant decline in mean comfort ratings for the symptomatic group from 84.6 ± 13.2 (S.D.) at insertion to 73.0 ± 18.5 at 8 hours (p < 0.001).Conclusions:
In our study, changes in contact lens comfort over a day were independent of lens material but not symptoms. Symptomatic lens wearers reported a progressive decrease in comfort, whereas asymptomatic wearers did not. Therefore, asymptomatic wearers should not be used when measuring contact lens comfort in clinical studies. The exclusion of asymptomatic lens wearers would likely increase the sensitivity of comfort ratings as a measure in contact lens research.