Symptoms of dryness discomfort in soft contact lens wearers frequently lead to discontinuation from wear. The negative influence of pre-fitting tear dysfunctions appears likely to be exacerbated by the challenges to tear homeostasis caused by contact lenses. The corneal mechanisms for symptoms in contact lens wearers are different to those for dry eye disease because the cornea is insulated by the lens from ambient conditions as well as from lid wiper friction during blinking. Symptoms of dryness discomfort might be the consequence of increased lid wiper friction during blinking when the lens front surface becomes soiled and dry and exhibits very rapid tear break up. It is possible that some cases of contact lens intolerance and discontinuation could be a function of lid wiper neuropathy. In relation to the possibility of corneal neuropathy, a stagnant post-lens tear pool with the possibility of increased concentrations of metabolic by-products, cellular debris, and bacterial exotoxins, might have the potential to disturb the corneal epithelial and sub-basal nerves. Contributions by contact lens-induced inflammation to any neuropathic changes may partly depend on the degree to which inflammatory mediators are concentrated in a stagnant post-lens tear pool. It does not appear to be known if corneal neuropathic changes could develop under these conditions. The chances of neuropathic involvement may be greater if discomfort develops after a significant period of successful wear and there is a history of comorbid pain conditions. Esthesiometry and in vivo confocal microscopy in discontinued contact lens wearers may support a diagnosis of contact lens-related corneal neuralgia.
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