ANDREW GASSON CONTACT LENSES
6 De Walden Street, London W1G 8RL, 020 7224 5959
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A GLOSSARY OF CONTACT LENS TERMS
[ A- D ] [ E-K ] [ L-R ] [ S-Z ]
* Denotes separate entry
CONTROLLED LENS: Contact lens to
improve visual performance by the control of spherical aberration, usually by
means of an *aspheric front surface. Sometimes
beneficial for early presbyopes.
measuring the sensitivity of the cornea or lid margins.
The most common device is the Cochet-Bonnet aesthesiometer which uses a
nylon filament of constant diameter but variable length.
technique where the *BOZR is selected to be parallel to the corneal surface.
VISION: Achieved with a bifocal contact lens which has distinct zones
for distance and near. The lens must
*translate for the different portions to line up with the pupil area for the
appropriate visual task. The reading
segment may be either fused or solid and only hard lenses have only proved
The complete absence of oxygen.
CLEARANCE (apical pooling): A contact lens fitting, usually steep, in which
there is a pool of tears between the back surface of a hard lens and the
anterior surface of the corneal apex. Generally observed with *fluorescein.
TOUCH: A contact lens fitting, usually flat, in which the back surface of the
lens rests on the apex of the cornea. Generally observed with *fluorescein.
(aspherical) LENS: Lens design where one or both surfaces are of non-spherical
construction. Aspherics usually take the form of a parabola, ellipse or
hyperbola, and are defined by *eccentricity.
Instrument for heat sterilization of contact lenses under pressure, usually at a
temperature of 121°C for a minimum of 15 minutes.
AXIAL EDGE LIFT (AEL): Distance between a point on the back surface of a lens at a specified diameter and the continuation of the back central optic zone, measured parallel to the lens axis.
OPTIC ZONE DIAMETER (BOZD): Diameter of the central, optic zone of a contact
lens. Previously known as the optic diameter.
OPTIC ZONE RADIUS (BOZR): Radius of curvature of the central, optic zone of a
hard contact lens; previously known as back central optic radius (BCOR).
RADIUS (BPR): Radius of curvature of a peripheral curve of a contact lens.
SURFACE TORIC: Lens design where part or all of the back surface is of toric
construction. The front surface may be either spherical, or toroidal in which
case it is a *bitoric.
LENS: Soft contact lens used to protect the cornea, reduce pain and assist
healing in conditions such as bullous keratopathy, ulcers and burns.
CURVE: Term used to specify the back optic radius of a soft contact lens. For
hard lenses, see back optic zone
Lens design having a back surface consisting of two different aspheric curves.
Lens design consisting of the central radius and one peripheral curve.
The ability of a material to interface with a natural substance without
provoking a biological response.
Where the principles of the complex structure and chemistry of nature are
emulated by much simpler scientific means which nevertheless achieve the same
Lens design with both front and back surfaces of toric construction.
The smoothing of a lens *transition with a curve intermediate between the two
radii. Blending may be light, medium or heavy.
BREAK-UP TIME (BUT): The time in seconds for the break up of the precorneal tears film in a non-blinking eye. Generally observed with fluorescein and the slit lamp. A normal eye has a BUT of 15 seconds or greater. An important diagnostic test in assessing dry eyes (see non-invasive break-up time).
KERATOPATHY: A degeneration of the cornea, often following trauma, resulting in
vesicles or bullae which cause severe pain on bursting. Frequently assisted by
the use of a *bandage lens.
That part of a lenticulated lens surrounding the front optic zone.
MOULDING: Method of soft lens manufacture employing heat and closed moulds.
LENS: Sometimes called a 'piggy-back' lens and used for keratoconus or
corneal grafts, where a hard lens is fitted on top of a soft lens for better
comfort. The reverse combination of
a thin soft lens over a hard lens is used to improve lens stability.
MOULDING: Method of hard lens manufacture employing granules of polymer, heat
SOLUTION: A storage solution used to enhance the biocompatibility of lens
Design of fenestrated PMMA lens introduced in the 1960s fitted 0.3mm steeper
than 'K'. Noted cause of corneal moulding.
AXIAL EDGE LIFT (CAEL): A lens design in which the axial edge lift of the
peripheral curves is calculated to remain constant for all BOZRs in a series.
ANGLE: Angle formed by a tangent to a sessile drop of fluid at the point where
the drop meets a surface. A more wettable material has a smaller angle of
contact. The angle is zero for a completely hydrophilic material.
LENS-INDUCED PAPILLARY CONJUNCTIVITIS (CLIPC); giant papillary conjunctivitis:
Condition of the palpebral conjunctiva characterized by the presence of large
papillae. Suggested causes with contact lens wearers are allergic, mechanical
WEAR: The use of contact lenses without removal for periods in excess of 1 week.
See *extended wear and *flexible wear.
LENS: Soft lens intended for repeated, non-disposable use.
EXHAUSTION: Loss of tolerance to contact lenses from long-term hypoxia resulting
in chronic oedema.
LENS: A hard gas-permeable lens fitted within the area of the cornea. Typical
overall sizes are 8.50-10.00mm.
MOULDING: Change in corneal curvature caused by the presence of a contact lens.
Predominantly associated with PMMA-induced oedema but also found with hard
gas-permeable lenses, especially aspherics, and occasionally with soft lenses.
LENS: A special complex diagnostic
contact lens is used to assess the performance of the design on the eye.
Although it may be of any type it is nearly always hard. The re-use of
such lenses is permitted only under certain stringent
The formation of trapped air bubbles beneath a contact lens. Usually associated
with hard lenses but can also occur with soft lenses.
The process of reducing the number of viable micro-organisms to a level which is
harmful neither to ocular health nor to the quality of contact lenses and
LENS: Soft lens designed for frequent replacement, usually on a daily, weekly or
and Dk/t: See oxygen
permeability and oxygen transmissibility.
Defines mathematically the departure of an aspheric curve from a circle. Used to
describe both a lens form or the curvature of the cornea which has a typical
eccentricity of 0.5.
LIFT: See Axial edge lift and radial
DATE: The date, designated by the manufacturer, beyond which a product should
not be first used.
WEAR: The regular use of contact lenses without removal, overnight or during
sleep, for periods of up to 1 week. See
flexible wear and continuous wear.
LENS FOR OPTIC MEASUREMENT (FLOM): A diagnostic hard lens with typical overall
size of 13.50-14.50mm, used to assess the optic fitting and power of a scleral
A ventilation hole drilled in a contact lens. Provides additional oxygen to the
cornea and may assist the dispersal of air bubbles or dimples.
Peripheral blur, usually experienced by hard lens wearers as a reflections or
halation around the edge of the contact lens.
Caused by decentration or too small a *BOZD and therefore worse with
WEAR: The intermittent use of contact lenses overnight or during sleep.
The bending of a soft contact lens fitted flatter or steeper than 'K' to
conform to the corneal curvature. Usually applied to soft lenses where negative
power is induced, but also applicable to steep-fitting hard lenses where visual
distortion may occur.
FLUORESCEIN (sodium fluorescein): A dye which stains live tissue, used in 1% solution or by applicator strips: (1) to reveal lesions in the corneal or conjunctival epithelium; (2) to assess hard lens fitting characteristics; and (3) to evaluate tears film (see *break-up time). The dye is orange under white light but fluoresces bright green when excited by ultraviolet light. Molecular weight 330.
ACRYLATES: Hard lens copolymers composed of fluoromonomers and siloxy acrylate
monomers. Sometimes loosely called fluorocarbons.
AND DRUGS ADMINISTRATION (FDA): The regulatory authority in the
REPLACEMENT: The regular replacement of soft lenses at predetermined intervals,
usually at 1, 3 or 6 months. See
SURFACE TORIC: Lens with a spherical back surface and toroidal front surface,
used for the correction of *residual astigmatism. Stabilization is necessary to
control axis orientation.
VESSELS: Vessels in the cornea caused by vascularization and which have emptied
of blood after the removal of the stimulus (e.g. hypoxic or chemical).
CONJUNCTIVITIS (GPC): also called *contact lens-induced papillary
conjunctivitis. Condition of the palpebral conjunctiva characterized by the
presence of large papillae. Suggested contact lens causes are allergic,
mechanical and chemical.
GAS-PERMEABLES: Hard lenses made from materials such as *silicon acrylates and *fluorosilicon
acrylates which permit the flow through their structure of gases, particularly
oxygen and carbon dioxide.
The uptake of water by a hydrogel material.
A material made from a hydrogel polymer which absorbs and binds water into its
molecular structure. Describes those lenses which have a percentage water
content, although not all hydrogels are necessarily soft.
(water loving): Frequently used as a synonym for soft lenses but more properly
applied to define the surface characteristic of a material in relation to its
(water hating): A surface characteristic of a material which causes the surface
to repel water.
The accumulation of carbon dioxide within the ocular tissues.
Reduced supply of oxygen to the ocular tissues.
LENS: *Scleral lens fitted by taking a mould of the eye.
ASTIGMATISM: Astigmatism created optically when a toric lens is fitted on the
cornea because of the difference in the refractive index between tears and
contact lens material.
Inflammatory cells within the cornea occurring as a response to viral or other
infection, toxic or chemical stimulus. Typically seen as greyish disciform
patches near the limbus.
SOLUTION: A solution having the same tonicity as 0.9% sodium chloride.
Hard lens fitting technique to ensure that the lens periphery is held in a
superior 'hitch-up' position by the upper lid and moves with it on blinking.
Reduces lid sensation and can avoid 3 and 9 o'clock staining.
authority in the
Small vesicles in the corneal epithelium containing fluid and cellular debris.
Occur as a typical response to corneal stress, particularly extended wear.
micrometre: Unit of length (1/1000th of a mm or 10-6m) used,
for example, in defining *tear layer thickness.
Technique for correcting presbyopia in which reading addition is incorporated
into the contact lens for the non-dominant eye.
Translucent or opalescent dimples containing cellular debris trapped behind a
contact lens. Most often associated
with *silicone hydrogels and sometimes known as lipid plugs or pre-corneal
Lens design consisting of the central radius and multiple peripheral curves.
SOLUTION: Solution for lens disinfection that combines more than one function,
such as cleaning, soaking and wetting.
Growth of blood vessels within the corneal stroma towards the pupil area (see
The process by which active ingredients in contact lens care products are
rendered inactive and non-toxic to ocular tissues. Usually applied to systems
containing hydrogen peroxide.
BREAK-UP TIME (NIBUT): Methods used to measure the stability of the tears film
without a staining agent, employing a cold diffuse light source or grid pattern
for observation (see Break-up time).
(keratometer): Instrument used for measuring the curvature of the anterior
surface of the cornea. Can also be used to measure the radius of curvature of a
ZONE DIAMETER: Diameter of a specified optic zone, measured to the surrounding
junction. If the latter is not circular, the major and minor diameters define
the size. N.B. The term may be qualified, for example, 'back central optic
The reduction, modification or elimination of a visual defect by the programmed
application of contact lenses. The technique for reducing myopia consists of
changing the shape of the cornea by fitting a series of hard lenses
progressively flatter than 'K'. Also called Corneal Refractive
Therapy (CRT) and Overnight Vision Correction (OVC).
Also called Corneal Refractive Therapy (CRT) and Overnight Vision Correction (OVC).
OVER-REFRACTION: Refraction carried out with a contact lens on the eye.
SYNDROME (acute epithelial necrosis; 3am syndrome): Extreme, painful response to
gross corneal oedema as a result of excessive contact lens wear. Usually found
with PMMA and typically occurring in the middle of the night.
PERMEABILITY (Dk): The rate of oxygen
flow under specified conditions through the unit area of contact lens material
of unit thickness when subjected to unit pressure difference.
TRANSMISSIBILITY (Dk/t): The value for
oxygen permeability divided by the thickness of the measured sample under
(pachymeter): Instrument for measuring the thickness of the cornea using optical
Method of lens disinfection employing heat which reduces micro-organisms to a
safe level. Falls short of the absolute efficacy of *sterilization.
See oxygen permeability.
KERATECTOMY: Surgical technique employing a laser beam to sculpt the central
corneal surface. Reduces myopia, hypermetropia or astigmatism.
DISC: Instrument to assess qualitatively the regularity of the cornea or a
contact lens surface using concentric circles and a magnifying lens. An
illuminated version is known as a Klein keratoscope and when combined with a
camera as a photokeratoscope.
(polymethyl methacrylate): The plastics material from which nearly all rigid
lenses were made prior to the introduction of *hard gas-permeables. Also known
as perspex or plexiglas.
Irregularity in the size of cells of the corneal endothelium. Observed in
extended wear and in long-standing PMMA wearers.
LENS: Scleral lens fitted from trial sets without taking a mould of the eye.
Agent intended to prevent the growth of micro-organisms in a care product.
BALLAST: The use in a contact lens of base down prism as a weighting or
stabilizing device to assist with correct orientation on the eye in toric or
bifocal fitting. The amount of prism is usually between one and two dioptres. 3D is
about the maximum available.
MATCHING: Technique for assessing the *BOZR of a contact lens by matching its
profile shape with a curve of known radius.
This can be by optical projection or physically matching calibrated
EDGE LIFT (REL; 'Z' factor): Distance between a point on the back surface of
a lens at a specified diameter and the continuation of the back central optic
zone, measured along a radius of curvature of the latter.
KERATOTOMY (RK): Surgical technique to reduce myopia by flattening the cornea
with radial incisions.
Instrument used to measure the radius of curvature of a contact lens by means of
ASTIGMATISM: Uncorrected astigmatism found by refraction when a spherical
contact lens is placed on the cornea. Derives from the crystalline lens and is
GEOMETRY LENS: A lens where the second radius is steeper than the base curve.
If more than one intermediate curve is steeper than the *BCOR, the lens
may be termed double reverse geometry. Such
lenses are used mainly for *orthokeratology but also for other fitting
applications such as corneal grafts and post refractive surgery.
TEST: Diagnostic test to assess quantitatively the volume of tear flow using
strip of absorptive filter paper placed in the outer temporal part of the lower
fornix. Normal tears flow wets at least 15mm in 5 minutes. A frequently quoted
but unreliable procedure.
LENS: A contact lens which fits over both the cornea and bulbar conjunctiva.
Typical overall sizes are 22-24mm.
(mini-scleral): A soft lens which extends beyond the limbus onto the bulbar
conjunctiva. Typical overall sizes are 14.00-15.00mm.
ACRYLATES (siloxanes): Hard lens copolymers with varying proportions of acrylate
HYDROGELS: Soft lens materials made from a combination of silicone rubber
and *hydrogel monomers. They were
developed for *extended wear because of their extremely high *oxygen
permeability but have several applications for daily wear.
VISION: Achieved with a
bifocal contact lens which positions both distance and reading portions in front
of the pupil at the same time. Lenses
may be either hard or soft.
SOLUTION: A solution designed to keep a contact lens in its functional condition
when not in the eye.
SPECTACLE BLUR: Blurred vision
with spectacles after wearing contact lenses because of oedema and corneal
moulding. Mainly caused
by PMMA but also encountered with hard gas-permeable and soft lenses.
SPIN CASTING: Method of soft lens manufacture employing liquid polymer spun to the required shape in rotating open moulds.
Used to ensure the correct orientation of a contact lens. Important in the
fitting of torics and bifocals (see
truncation and prism ballast).
Usually refers to the uptake of *fluorescein by lesions in the corneal
epithelium but applies to any of the commonly used tissue stains (see
The killing of all micro-organisms (see
Vertical stress lines observed as folds in the corneal stroma, caused by
hypoxia. Vogt striae of different origin are observed in keratoconus.
Agent that modifies the surface energy of a contact lens solution.
LAYER THICKNESS: The thickness of the layer of tears between the back surface of
a contact lens and the front surface of the cornea. Usually expressed in
AND NINE O'CLOCK STAINING: Staining of the nasal and temporal areas of the
peripheral cornea. Frequently associated with conjunctival injection in the
horizontal meridian. Influenced by dry eyes, poor blinking, lens design and lens
LENS: Lens with all or part of at least one surface of toroidal construction (see
back surface toric, front surface toric, bi-toric, toric periphery).
PERIPHERY: Lens with one or more peripheral curves of toric construction.
TRANSLATION: The movement
of a bifocal contact lens to bring either the distance or reading portion in
front of the pupil as the eye changes fixation.
The junction between two adjacent curves on the surface of a contact lens;
usually applied to the central radius (BOZR) and first peripheral radius.
Transitions may be sharp or blended.
See oxygen transmissibility.
LENS: A contact used to assess
fitting, following which it is either disposed of or dispensed to the patient.
Lens design consisting of the central radius and two peripheral curves.
The shaping of a lens, normally with a straight edge, to assist with correct
orientation on the eye in toric or bifocal fitting. Truncation may be single,
usually at the base, or double, at top and bottom of the lens.
Superficial extension of blood vessels from the limbal arcades into the cornea.
CONTENT: Volume of water (0.9% saline) absorbed by a hydrophilic lens, expressed
as a percentage of the total weight of the fully hydrated lens.
UPTAKE: Volume of water (0.9% saline) absorbed by a hydrophilic lens, expressed
as a percentage of the weight of the lens prior to hydration.
A property of the contact lens surface as defined by the contact angle and
measured under specified conditions.
SOLUTION: A solution used with hard lenses to improve the wettability of the
Hydrogel lens prior to hydration.
This glossary is taken from The Contact Lens Manual, 3rd edition by Andrew Gasson and Judith Morris.
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