The Impact of Material Surface Characteristics on the Wetting Properties of Silicone Hydrogel Contact Lenses

    Student thesis: Phd


    This PhD project investigated the ramifications of air-cured and nitrogen-cured manufacturing processes during silicone hydrogel contact lens manufacture in terms of lens surface characterisation and clinical performance. A one-hour contralateral clinical study was conducted for ten subjects to compare the clinical performance of the two study lenses. The main clinical findings were reduced levels of subjective performance, reduced surface wettability and increased deposition. Contact angle analysis showed the air-cured lenses had consistently higher advancing and receding contact angle measurements, in comparison with the nitrogen-cured lens. Chemical analysis of the study lens surfaces in the dehydrated state, by x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and time-of-flight mass spectrometry (ToF-SIMS), showed no difference due to surface segregation of the silicone components. Analysis of frozen lenses limited surface segregation and showed a higher concentration of silicone polymer components and lower concentration of hydrophilic polymer components at the surface of the air-cured lens, in comparison with the nitrogen-cured lens. Scanning electron microscope (SEM) imaging showed the nitrogen-cured lens to have a surface typical of a hydrogel material, whereas the air-cured lens had regions of apparent phase separation. In addition, atomic force microscopy (AFM) showed the air-cured lens to have a rougher surface associated with greater adherence of contaminants (often observed in materials with reduced polymer cross-linking). In conclusion, clinical assessment of the study lenses confirmed the inferior performance of the air-cured lens. Surface analysis suggested that the non-wetting regions on the air-cured lenses were associated with elevated level of silicone components, reduced polymer cross-linking and polymer phase separation.
    Date of Award1 Aug 2011
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • The University of Manchester
    SupervisorPhilip Morgan (Supervisor) & Carole Maldonado-Codina (Supervisor)


    • Atomic force microscopy
    • Environmental scanning electron microscopy
    • X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy
    • Time-of-flight Mass spectrometry
    • Contact angle
    • Clinical study
    • Phase separation
    • Surface segregation
    • contact lens manufacturing
    • Silicone hydrogel
    • Contact lens
    • Wettability

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