This study examined conjunctival microvasculature development in long-term habitual contact lens (HCL) wearers after a night of sleep.Methods:
Twenty HCL wearers (15 women and 5 men, aged 28.6±6.9 years, mean age±standard deviation) who had worn contact lenses on a daily basis for at least 3 years and 40 noncontact lens (NCL) wearers (23 women and 17 men, aged 36.5±6.6 years, mean age±standard deviation) participated in the study. A functional slitlamp biomicroscopy imaging system was used to image the temporal bulbar conjunctiva. Imaging was performed in the morning while the contact lens wearers were not wearing their lenses after a night of sleep. The conjunctival vessel diameters, blood flow velocities, and flow rates were measured. In addition, fractal analyses were performed to obtain the vessel network density (Dbox) and complexity (D0).Results:
The average blood flow velocity in HCL wearers after a night of sleep was 0.59±0.19 mm/s, which was significantly higher than that in NCL wearers (0.48±0.17 mm/s, P<0.05). The microvessel network density and complexity levels (Dbox=1.64±0.05 and D0=1.71±0.05, respectively) in the HCL wearers were significantly higher than those in NCL wearers (Dbox=1.61±0.05 and D0=1.69±0.04, both P<0.05). The blood flow velocity was positively correlated with the duration of contact lens wear (r=0.46, P<0.05) and with the daily number of lens-wearing hours (r=0.49, P<0.05) in HCL wearers.Conclusions:
This study identified microvascular alterations in the conjunctiva in response to daily contact lens wear after a night of sleep in long-term daily contact lens wearers. The unrecovered changes may indicate that para-inflammation occurs on ocular surfaces because of contact lens wear and that overnight sleeping with no lenses may not sufficiently restore the ocular surface to an intact state.