To assess whether short-term soft contact lens wear alters the anterior eye surface.
Twenty-two neophyte subjects wore soft contact lenses for a period of five hours. Topography based corneo-scleral limbal radius estimates were derived from height measurements acquired with a corneo-scleral profilometer. Additionally, central corneal thickness (CCT), anterior chamber depth (ACD), corneal curvature radius (R) and white-to-white (WTW) diameter were acquired with an OCT-assisted biometer. Measurements were obtained without lens wear (baseline), immediately after lens removal following five hours of wear and three hours after lens removal.
Short-term soft contact lens wear significantly modifies corneo-scleral limbal radius (mean ± SD: 130 ± 74 μm, p << 0.001) and the changes are repeatable. In contrast, the WTW diameter and R were not modified. ACD and CCT were significantly affected but no significant correlations were found between the increment of the limbal radius and the decrease in ACD and CCT. Limbal radius increment was reversed three hours after lens removal for 68% of the subjects but the time course of this reversal was not uniform.
It is possible to accurately quantify limbal radius changes as a consequence of soft contact lens wear. The increment in the limbal diameter could reach over 0.5 mm but that alteration does not correspond to changes in WTW diameter and it was not observable to the examiner using a slit lamp. Assessing topographical limbus after contact lens wear could be a tool to optimize the selection of the contact lens, from the perspective of anterior eye surface changes.