One of the biggest obstacles to increasing contact lens use in the United Kingdom is simply comfort: people who are not comfortable in contact lenses simply will quit wearing them. And who can blame them?
Anyone who has had any irritation about the eye will instantly understand. Whether it’s allergies, or dry eye or something more troubling, when your eye is in discomfort there is no getting away from it. You might have issues with your stomach and you might be able to minimize said issues by minimizing your food. Your doctor may even order you to be fed intravenously.
But you can’t stop using your eyes. Even if they’re covered, you blink, they tear up and they move. Even when you’re sleeping, they move.
At Stanford, Dr. Saad Bhamia understands. He tried contacts as an undergrad and had to give them up as the were too irritating.
Now, along with his colleagues, he’s trying to do something about it.
The Stanford team’s theory was that discomfort starts with the breakup of the tear film during dewetting.
What is the tear film? It’s a wet coating on the surface of the eye.
What is dewetting? There are different processes that can occur at a solid-liquid or liquid-liquid interface. Basically, this is where things come together. When the tear film breaks down it leads to irritation.
This also involves the lipid bilayer. This is a fundamental part of all cell membranes and gives the membrane some meaningful structure. It also is elastic and can stretch to support fluid beneath it.
The surface layer also keeps the eye from drying out.
So the challenge that must be engineered is to design lenses that don’t disturb the tear film.
The Stanford team built a device charmingly named the “Interfacial Dewetting and Drainage Optical Platform”.
No one wants to go around saying that so they call it the I-DDrOP (it should go without saying that coming up with a good acronym is hard work).
The I-DDrOP was designed to mimic the surface of the human eye. Now the team can see how various things – temperature, humidity, various substances and how a sphere accommodates gravity – can affect eye comfort.
This is yet another example of how people are using technology to improve contact lenses. It surely won’t be the last.
Millions of contact lens users and potential users across the UK can look forward to improvements in contact comfort thanks to efforts such as we see at Stanford.
Western Daily Press: http://www.westerndailypress.co.uk/Study-human-tea...