Effects of a 0.9% sodium chloride ophthalmic solution on the ocular surface of symptomatic contact lens wearers

Stefano Barabino, Maurizio Rolando, Paola Camicione, Wei Chen, Giovanni Calabria

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Ocular surface-related discomfort is the main reason for stopping contact lens wear. We carried out a study to evaluate the efficacy of preservative-free artificial tears containing 0.9% sodium chloride on ocular surface signs and symptoms in contact lens wearers experiencing discomfort and its possible influence on the duration of contact lens wear. Methods: We studied 49 contact lens wearers experiencing discomfort who had normal results of slit-lamp biomicroscopy, afluorescein tear film break-up time (BUT) of 10 seconds or more, and wetting greater than 5 mm in 5 minutes on the Schirmer I test with and without anesthesia. Twenty-nine subjects (16 men and 13 women with a mean age of 32.5 years [standard deviation (SD) 8.7 years]) received one instillation of the 0.9% sodium chloride solution four times daily in the lower conjunctival fornix for 21 days. Twenty subjects (12 men and 8 women with a mean age of 35.1 [SD 6.2] years) received no drops and served as a control group. The overall comfort and duration of contact lens wear, results of tear film analysis and adverse events were recorded on days 7 and 21. Patients rated their symptoms (while not receiving any medications or hydrating solutions) on a 100-mm visual analogue scale with "Excellent (lenses not felt)$ at the left and $Very uncomfortable (lenses cause irritation or discomfort)$ at the right. Measurement of corrected visual acuity, slit-lamp examination, determination of the tear film BUT, the Schirmer 1 test with and without anesthesia, and assessment of the colour and surface of the lens were performed at baseline and at day 21. We analysed the data for the more uncomfortable eye or, if the eyes were equally uncomfortable, the right eye. Results: Significant lessening of ocular discomfort was observed in the treatment group during the study: the mean rating on the visual analogue scale at baseline was 60.2 mm (SD 12.7 mm), compared with 35.8 mm (SD 18.0 mm) at day 21 (p <0.001, Student's t test). The duration of contact lens wear was significantly longer at day 21 than at baseline (7.0 [SD 2.6] hours vs. 6.4 [SD 2.6] hours, p <0.05, Student's t test), and the proportion of subjects with conjunctival hyperemia was significantly lower at day 21 (48.3% vs. 82.8%, p <0.05, χ2 test). No statistically significant changes were observed in tear film BUT, results of the Schirmer 1 test, corneal punctate staining by fluorescein or results of tear film analysis. The treatment was well tolerated by all patients. No significant differences in any of the variables studied were observed in the control group. Interpretation: Treatment with a preservative-free 0.9% sodium chloride ophthalmic solution reduced ocular surface discomfort and extended the duration of contact lens wear without interfering with the tear film or contact lens materials. Long-term studies are needed to confirm the role of this solution in reducing discomfort experienced by contact lens wearers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-50
Number of pages6
JournalCanadian Journal of Ophthalmology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • Artificial tears
  • Contact lens wearers
  • Ocular surface
  • Sodium chloride
  • Tear film

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology


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