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Contact lens discomfort: what is it, why does it occur and how can it be treated?

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Contact lens discomfort (CLD) may be the leading cause of patient dissatisfaction with, and discontinuation of, contact lens wear throughout the world — but there is little agreement among vision researchers and eye care professionals about how to define and manage its causes.

“Up to half of all contact lens wearers experience CLD,” explained Jason J. Nichols, OD, MPH, PhD, Professor at the University of Houston College of Optometry. “However, there is no global consensus concerning the definition, classification, epidemiology, pathophysiology, diagnosis, management and the proper design of clinical studies for CLD.”

To lay the groundwork for defining and treating this widespread issue, the Tear Film & Ocular Surface Society (TFOS; www.tearfilm.org) organized the TFOS International Workshop on Contact Lens Discomfort (CLD), which was chaired by Nichols. The findings were reported Friday in the current issue of journalInvestigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science (www.iovs.org).

The CLD Workshop took 18 months to complete and involved 79 experts from around the world. “Workshop participants used an evidence-based approach and a process of open communication, dialogue, and transparency in order to achieve a global consensus concerning multiple aspects of CLD,” noted Mark Willcox, PhD, FBCLA, FAAO, MASM, Professor, School of Optometry & Vision Science, University of New South Wales, and Vice-Chair of the Workshop.

“This TFOS report will significantly increase awareness of factors that may, and may not, contribute to the generation of CLD. Ideally, this TFOS report will stimulate innovative research in this very important field,” commented David A. Sullivan, MS, PhD, FARVO, Founder and recent past TFOS President, Senior Scientist, Schepens Eye Research Institute/Harvard Medical School and Organizer of the TFOS CLD Workshop.

The TFOS International Workshop on Contact Lens Discomfort Report is freely available to scientists and clinicians worldwide. Complete or partial translations of the report will be offered in numerous languages.

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