Testing contact lens components on humans and animals can be expensive and controversial, and conventional testing using vials doesn’t adequately represent the structure of the eye or a lens wearer’s experience.
Post-doc Chau Minh Phan and Master’s student Vivian Chan are two of the researchers working to develop Ocublink, a sophisticated eye model that offers significant improvements over other testing methods, including an adjustable blink reaction that simulates tear break-up.
Under the supervision of Dr. Lyndon Jones, Chau is exploring the use of polyvinyl alcohol hydrogels to create an artificial cornea for Ocublink. The polyvinyl models, which have many of the same properties as a living eye, could be used to test tear break-up time, drug absorption, or as a tool to train optometry students to remove foreign bodies from the eye.
Vivian, also supervised by Dr. Jones, is using Ocublink to investigate how proteins and lipids in tear film are deposited on contact lenses, a build-up that can cause discomfort for wearers. This project will create a way to predict how tear components will react with different contact lens materials in a living eye; these findings will help drive the development of new lens designs and care systems.
This year, the Canadian Optometric Education Trust Fund (COETF) awarded funding to 13 research projects conducted by faculty and graduate students at the School of Optometry & Vision Science. This article is part of a series that highlights some of these projects.