Rethinking contact lens associated Keratitis

Nathan Efron, Philip B. Morgan

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This review presents a critical analysis of the literature relating to the use of binomial and polynomial classification schemes for categorising corneal infiltrative events (CIEs) associated with contact lens wear and the epidemiology of such events. The results of the Manchester Keratitis Study-a 12-month, prospective, hospital-based epidemiological study of contact lens wearers suffering from CIEs-are used as a tool to challenge and test traditional thinking in relation to contact lens associated keratitis. An innovative aspect of this study is the use of a novel clinical severity matrix to systematically score the severity of CIEs based on 10 key signs and symptoms. The ambiguities inherent in using binomial classification schemes (such as, microbial versus sterile, ulcerative versus non-ulcerative et cetera) are highlighted. The failure of a polynomial scheme-due to extensive classification overlap between proposed sub-types of CIEs-is demonstrated using a Venn diagram. A cartographic analysis reveals that infiltrates tend to occur in the superior cornea of patients wearing extended wear silicone hydrogel lenses, in the central cornea of patients wearing daily wear hydrogel daily disposable lenses and in the peripheral cornea of patients wearing daily wear hydrogel (excluding daily disposable) lenses. Infiltrates that occur more towards the limbus are less severe. The incidence of CIEs is higher when contact lenses are worn overnight. Logistic analysis reveals that the risk of developing a severe CIE is five times greater with conventional hydrogel extended wear versus silicone hydrogel extended wear. The male gender, smoking, a healthy eye and body, and the late Winter months are associated with an increased risk of developing CIEs. The rate of significant visual loss as a result of developing a CIE is low. Two key conclusions are drawn from this work, which represent a radical rethinking of this potentially sight-threatening condition. 1. CIEs should be considered as a continuous spectrum of ocular disease. 2. If a contact lens wearer presents with a sore eye that is becoming progressively worse and a CIE is observed in that eye, lens wear should be suspended and anti-microbial therapy initiated immediately. © 2006 The Authors.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)280-298
    Number of pages18
    JournalClinical and Experimental Optometry
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2006


    • Contact lens
    • Corneal infiltrative events
    • Incidence
    • Keratitis
    • Morbidity
    • Risk


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