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Mucin shields against inflammation and infection

A protein build up may provide long-term protection in extended-wear contact lens patients, new research suggests

Contact lens

A new study has found deposits of the protein mucin may protect patients using extended-wear contact lenses from inflammation and infection in the long-term.

However, during the first month of extended-wear contact lens use, researchers found the opposite effect – patients with the protein build up had a greater rate of corneal infiltrates compared to those without mucin deposits.

The research, published in Optometry and Vision Sciencemonitored the short and long-term response to extended-wear contact lenses in 219 patients.

During the first month, close to 75% of patients developed mucin deposits on the eye. Of this group, 19% developed corneal infiltrates compared to 6% of those without mucin deposits.

In contrast, after a year of extended-wear contact lens use, corneal infiltrate rates were higher among those without mucin deposits ­– at 14% compared to 10.5%.

Study author, Loretta Szczotka-Flynn, told OT that in the longer term the mucin deposits may have a protective effect by acting as a physical barrier between the lens and the ocular surface once successful extended wear was established.

“These findings are important for clinicians as they place and monitor their patients in extended wear,” she concluded.