Bacterial Biofilm on Contact Lenses and Lens Storage Cases in Wearers With Microbial Keratitis

J Appl Microbiol. 1998 May;84(5):827-38. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2672.1998.00418.x.


Bacterial biofilm formation on contact lenses (CLs), and CL storage cases may be a risk factor for CL-associated corneal infection and may explain the persistence of organisms in CL storage cases. This study evaluated biofilm formation on, and microbial contamination of, CLs and CL storage cases from patients with microbial keratitis. Contact lenses and CL storage cases from 20 wearers with microbial keratitis were sampled microbiologically and visualized using scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Culture results from the cornea were also noted. Bacterial biofilm was present more frequently (P < 0.05) on CL storage case surfaces (17/20) compared with CL surfaces (11/20) and biofilm density was significantly greater on case surfaces (P < 0.05). There was no association between poor compliance and microbial contamination of the CL storage case, nor between poor compliance and biofilm formation or density on the CL or CL storage case. Biofilm formation occurred equally frequently with hydrogen peroxide and chlorine release care systems. Microbial keratitis in CL wearers is frequently associated with bacterial biofilm in the CL storage case. Despite the use of current CL disinfection systems, the CL storage case is a favourable environment for proliferation of certain organisms. Biofilm on CLs may prolong the retention time of organisms at the ocular surface and increase their potential pathogenicity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biofilms*
  • Contact Lenses, Extended-Wear / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Keratitis / microbiology*
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Patient Compliance