Scanning Microscopy


The deposits accumulated on the surfaces of soft contact lenses are a cause of problems for the wearer of these lenses, as the deposits are never completely removed by the available washing solutions. Therefore it appears of interest to investigate the composition of these deposits.

In this paper we review the major findings in the literature and, in addition, present our personal experience.

We have studied new, continuously and daily worn soft contact lenses by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), X-ray microanalysis and immunohistochemistry. We have carefully evaluated preparative methods, and we can conclude that SEM and X-ray microanalysis are best carried out on unfixed, air-dried lenses.

The deposits present consist mainly of mucus, especially on the tarsal side of the lenses. Chloride and potassium, coming from the tear fluid, as well as sulfur, derived from proteins, were found. Calcium was very rarely detected. IgG, IgA, IgE and C3c complement fractions were found only on the outer surfaces and not within the lens.

We believe that the best characterization of the deposits is achieved by means of correlative techniques on the same lens. In fact, this approach integrates morphology and composition.

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