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The friction coefficient of soft contact lens surfaces in relation to comfort and performance

Koller, Anton W. (2014). The friction coefficient of soft contact lens surfaces in relation to comfort and performance. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)


The soft contact lenses of today are made from a variety of hydrogel materials. These materials have different properties in terms of water content, monomers, hardness and other tensile characteristics. It is likely that the frictional properties also vary between materials. It is known that constituents of the tear film interact with contact lens materials to form a biofilm on the lens surface. The hypothesis of this research is that although the frictional properties of lens materials may vary these properties do not affect the comfort and performance of the lenses in vivo.
A tribometer is a device to measure the coefficient of friction of materials. There was no commercially available tribometer designed specifically for use with contact lens materials, so one was constructed and validated against standard solid materials. The same equipment was used to determine the friction coefficients of five contemporary soft lens materials under different conditions of lubrication but, unlike other tribometers, this unique design simulated human blinking as far as possible. The experimental friction coefficients varied widely from 0.27 to 5.89 under different conditions of lubrication. The largest variation between materials was seen using the most viscous lubricant.
For the in vivo studies the author coordinated the manufacture of 250 contact lenses, which were lathe cut and polished to a standard design, achieving exceptionally tight tolerances, using the same five materials. This rigourous process was carried out to minimise variations in the geometry of each contact lens. Subjects were screened to minimise ocular heterogeneities between subjects. Clinical performance of each lens was assessed using comfort, contrast sensitivity, visual acuity, entoptic phenomena, non-invasive tear break-up time and lens movement on the eye. In a clinical environment none of these parameters showed any associations with the coefficients of friction found in vitro, apart from a moderate correlation (rho = 0.5) between lens movement and the coefficient of friction under borderline friction conditions. In conclusion, the findings of this research support the hypothesis that frictional properties of soft lenses do not affect comfort and performance in vivo.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: R Medicine > RE Ophthalmology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Optometry & Visual Sciences
Doctoral Theses
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > School of Health & Psychological Sciences Doctoral Theses
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