Do patients who habitually wear contact lenses (CLs) experience pinguecula more frequently than non-wearers? Since dry eye is one contributor to the condition, and contact lens wear causes tear film disruption and chronic friction at the limbus, it stands to reason that there might be a link.

Not so, say Turkish researchers, who recently investigated the presumed association and found that contact lens wear does not affect the prevalence of pinguecula. In fact, it may, suppress some symptoms.

The team evaluated 233 soft contact lens wearers and 230 non-wearers and obtained Schirmer and tear break-up time (TBUT) scores, in addition to a questionnaire on ocular surface disease index (OSDI), age, sex and duration of lens wear.

The researchers found no significant difference in the prevalence of pinguecula between both groups, with a prevalence of 27.8% (65 out of 233 patients) in the contact lens group and 26.5% (61 out of 230 patients) in the control group. They add that there was no significant difference in the prevalence of pinguecula according to the duration of lens wear.

They note that TBUT scores were lower in the contact lens group and in patients with pinguecula regardless of lens wear. As expected, OSDI scores were higher in the contact lens group, but there were no significant difference between patients with pinguecula and healthy participants in this group. “The reason for this might be that soft CLs cover the limbus and the pinguecula to some extent, and it may decrease the symptoms related to pinguecula,” the authors wrote in their paper. “Furthermore, it has been reported that changes in corneal nerve plexus occur, and corneal sensitivity decreases” with long-term CL  wear, they note, and speculate that this may prevent the presense of a pinguecula from causing uncomfortable symptoms

However, OSDI scores were significantly higher in patients with pinguecula in the control group. The Schirmer test scores didn’t differ between the groups, or between patients with pinguecula and healthy participants regardless of lens wear.

The results align with previous findings that suggest CL wear doesn’t affect pinguecula prevalence, although it might help patients combat ocular symptoms. 

Dundar H, Kocasarac C. Relationship between contact lens and pinguecula. Eye Contact Lens. February 12, 2019. [Epub ahead of print].