Factors affecting microbial contamination on the back surface of worn soft contact lenses

Jacqueline Tan, Jaya Sowjanya Siddireddy, Katherine Wong, Qing Shen, Ajay Kumar Vijay, Fiona Stapleton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


SIGNIFICANCE: The results of this study demonstrate that Smart Touch Technology packaging, which is designed to reduce and simplify contact lens handling before insertion, is effective in reducing the frequency of bacterial contamination of the back surface of contact lenses after short-term wear. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of lens packaging type, chelating agent, and finger contamination on microbial contamination on the back surface of worn soft contact lenses. METHODS: Twenty-five subjects completed each contralateral lens wear comparison in this randomized study: Smart Touch Technology versus conventional blister packaging for (1) silicone hydrogel lenses with ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) and (2) hydrogel lenses without EDTA in the packaging, and (3) silicone hydrogel lenses without EDTA versus hydrogel lenses with EDTA both in Smart Touch Technology packaging. Participants washed hands, underwent finger swabs, and inserted the lenses. After 45 minutes, lenses were removed aseptically and the posterior lens surfaces cultured. RESULTS: Thirty-eight subjects (average age, 30.9 ± 12.5 years) participated in this study. Overall, the level of back surface contamination was low for both lens materials, ranging from 0 to 43 colony-forming unit (CFU)/lens for the silicone hydrogel and 0 to 17 CFU/lens for the hydrogel lenses. The proportion of lenses with zero back surface contamination ranged from16 to 64%for silicone hydrogel lenses and 28 to 64%for hydrogel lenses. Contact lenses fromconventional packaging containing EDTA had 3.38 times increased risk (95%confidence interval [CI], 1.02 to 11.11; P = .05) of contamination being present compared with lenses from Smart Touch packaging with EDTA. Contact lenses from conventional packaging without EDTA had 3.4 times increased risk (95% CI, 1.02 to 11.36; P = .05) of contamination being present compared with Smart Touch packaging without EDTA, and silicone hydrogel lenses had a 6.28 times increased risk (95% CI, 1.65 to 23.81; P = .007) of contamination being present compared with hydrogels. The median (interquartile range) number of bacteria isolated from fingers used to perform lens insertion after handwashing but before lens insertion was not significantly different between the silicone hydrogel and hydrogel lenses (63.7 [204.2] vs. 59 [84.5], P = .09). Finger contamination was not significantly associated with lens contamination in the presence or absence of EDTA. CONCLUSIONS: Smart Touch Technology packaging was effective in reducing the proportion of contaminated lenses. Although silicone hydrogel lenses were more likely to be contaminated, the presence of EDTA ameliorated this effect. Finger contamination was not associated with lens contamination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)512-517
Number of pages6
JournalOptometry and Vision Science
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2021
Externally publishedYes


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