In Vitro Compatibility of Contact Lenses With Corneal Epithelial Cells

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To determine the interaction of contact lenses of different materials with corneal epithelial cells grown in tissue culture.


Two different corneal epithelial cell lines were grown to confluence in culture media. Two hydrogel contact lenses with and without polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) {1-DAY ACUVUE MOIST (1-Day ACUVUE [hydrogel lenses]) and a silicone hydrogel contact lens, AIR OPTIX NIGHT & DAY} were removed from their blister packs, washed in phosphate-buffered saline, and applied to the cells. After exposure for 24 hr at 37°C, lenses were removed, and the corneal cells and supernatants processed. Supernatants from the cell assays were used to quantify the amount of 17 different cytokines that were produced using a multiplex bead assay. Cells were stained to assess amount of cell death (apoptosis or necrosis) or stained to determine the level of mitochondrial activity. Stimulants of necrotic death (latex) or apoptotic death (sorbitol) were used as positive controls.


Cells produced cytokines during normal growth. Exposure of cells to the hydrogel lenses resulted in only minimal changes to normal production of cytokines, but latex or sorbitol produced the most change. Exposure of the cells to all three lenses caused 4% to 23% reduction in mitochondrial activity, whereas exposure to the positive controls caused 71% to 98% reduction in mitochondrial activity. Exposure of the corneal epithelial cells to contact lenses produced minimal morphological changes, whereas exposure to latex or sorbitol produced significant changes to the human corneal epithelial cell line.


Exposure of corneal epithelial cells to contact lenses had minimal impact on their physiology. There was no difference in epithelial cell responses to hydrogel with or without PVP compared with the silicone hydrogel contact lens.

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