Mechanical irritation may be responsible for lid wiper changes during contact lens wear, a recent study found. Researchers looked at 100 patients with various exposures to contact lens (CL) wear to gauge if the duration of CL wear affects the cellular morphology of lid wiper epithelium. After collecting impression cytology samples from the lid wiper area, they assessed cell morphology and lid wiper staining.

Between groups of patients with short CL wear, moderate CL wear, long CL wear and controls with no CL wear, results showed significant differences in lid wiper epithelium morphology. Researchers found abnormal epithelial morphology in 66.7% of short-duration CL wearers and 76.5% of moderate-duration CL wearers, which was significantly higher than the 21.5% of control patients with abnormal epithelial morphology. However, lid wiper staining results did not significantly differ between the groups. Additionally, the study found that stopping CL wear led to patient recovery.

“Metaplasia of the epithelium in the lid wiper was significantly greater in CL wearers as evidenced by altered cytoplasmic and nuclear characteristics, as well as a reduction in goblet cell density,” the study concluded. “This supports the view that mechanical irritation is responsible for lid wiper changes in CL wear.”

Alghamdi WM, Markoulli M, Papas EB. The effect of contact lens wear on the cellular morphology of the lid wiper area. Optom Vis Sci. 2018;95(6):491-7.