Researchers of the future

In the fourth article looking at the research undertaken by each of the finalists in this year’s CooperVision Student of the Year competition, Bill Harvey takes a look at the finalist based in Dublin Institute of technology

Finalist: Una Kelly

Project: Comparison of tear ferning and dry eye signs and symptoms prior to and following soft contact lens wear using various soft contact lens multipurpose solutions

Supervisor: Dr Veronica O’Dwyer

As explained by Una Kelly at the start of her presentation, ‘Tear ferning is the process of collecting a sample of a subject’s tear and observing the dried sample under a microscope, a fern like pattern is formed, as shown below, morphology of the pattern used to evaluate the tear film quality.’ The patterns are then graded from 0.5 to 3.0. Figure 1 shows a pattern graded as 0.5.

The aims of this ambitious project were to firstly use tear ferning to assess patients prior to contact lens insertion and then after a period of wear of lenses which had first been soaked in one of a range of multipurpose solutions (Optifree Pure Moist, Biotrue, Synergi and ReNu). In this way, it might be seen if tear ferning could be used to detect differences in MPS impact upon tears and also whether ferning compared with other methods of tear and dry eye symptom assessment.

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