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Am J Optom Physiol Opt. 1982 Apr;59(4):297-300.

Contact lenses in extreme cold environments: response of rabbit corneas.


Contact lenses are worn by many individuals in military and civilian populations. Anecdotal reports have described contact lenses "sticking" and "freezing" to the eye during extreme cold conditions. However, some articles indicate the advantages of wearing contact lenses in cold environments. Military operations frequently taken place in cold regions; therefore, we need to known whether contact lenses can be worn safely in extreme cold. Rabbits were fitted with hard (polymethyl methacrylate) contact lenses and exposed to -28.9 degrees C temperatures with winds up to 78 mph (125 km/hr) for 3-hr periods. The wind-chill factor in these conditions exceeded -67.8 degrees C. No effects of the cold or contact lenses were seen in 85% of the eyes. A few of the eyes, both with contact lenses and without, showed mild superficial fluorescein staining of the cornea which cleared within a few ours after exposure. Histologic examination of the corneas revealed no abnormalities attributable to the cold. Inasmuch as this study showed that rabbits wearing contact lenses in extreme cold suffered no acute deleterious effects to the eyes, the research can be expanded to include human subjects.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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