New Material for Improved Breathability and Reduced Dryness in Contact Lenses 

At a Glance

Researchers at CSU have incorporated hyaluronan into a silicone polymer for use in ocular applications (such as contact lenses). When compared to traditional silicone hydrogel soft contact lenses, this new material allows for greater flow of oxygen through the lens, improving breathability. Additionally, it repels water to reduce the lens contribution to corneal dryness.


It is estimated that there are about 45 million contact lens wearers in the United States. The current state-of-the-art enables high-volume, low-cost production of corrective lenses. Soft contact lenses (often made from silicon hydrogel) account for roughly 68% of all contact lenses sold. While these lenses or hydrophilic and generally lubricious, research and surveys have found that they can contribute to dryness and discomfort for some users. These symptoms of discomfort – commonly attributed to a lack of oxygen flow through the lens, and the lens absorbing moisture, result in an estimated 24-35% of soft contact lens wearers permanently discontinuing use.


Researchers at CSU have developed a bio-polymer incorporating hyaluronan into a silicone polymer for use in ocular applications. Silicone increases oxygen permeability and mechanical properties. The incorporation of the hyaluronan increases lubricity and wettability. The new material has significantly higher oxygen gas permeability (700-800 Barrer) than silicone hydrogel soft contact lenses and was hydrophilic without containing water in its bulk.

Additionally, these researchers demonstrate the ability to:

  • Manufacture block copolymers consisting of silicone blocks and polyethylene oxide blocks as well as those block polymers modified with hyaluronic
  • Control shape and composition of block copolymer
  • Improve the manufacturing process, resulting in more durable hyaluronan content when compared to surface modification and cross-linking techniques

The effectiveness of these ophthalmic lenses have been evaluated in regards to hydrophobicity and optical transparency, the protein absorption, and monocyte adhesion to demonstrate these new lenses as suitable for ophthalmic application.


Excellent oxygen permeability (significantly higher than silicon hydrogel based lenses) and mechanical properties. The incorporation of the hyaluronan:

  • Increases lubricity and wettability;
  • Reduces foreign body response while maintaining a preocular tear film;
  • Increases the hydrophilicity of the lens surface to enhance spreading of mucin to cornea;
  • Imparts antimicrobial properties to the silicone

It is anticipated that the characteristics of these hyaluronan enhanced silicones may also improve intraocular lens technology. Hydrophilicity, optical transparency, protein absorption, and monocyte adhesion data demonstrate the promise of these new materials for ophthalmic applications.


  • Soft contact lenses
Last Updated: March 2023
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