The surface mechanical properties of poly(hydroxyethyl)methacrylate (pHEMA)-based contact lenses were monitored as a function of humidity by atomic force microscopy (AFM). Surface viscoelastic and adhesion values were extracted from AFM force versus distance interaction curves and were found to be strongly dependent on the bulk water content of the lens and on the relative humidity. At low relative humidity, 40-50%, the dehydration rate from the surface is faster than the hydration rate from the bulk, leading to a rigid surface region that has mechanical properties similar to those measured on totally dehydrated lenses. At relative humidity values > 60%, the dehydration rate from the lens surface rapidly decreases, leading to higher surface water content and a softer surface region. The results indicate that, in an ocular environment, although the bulk of the pHEMA contact lens is hydrated, the surface region may be in a transition between a dehydrated glassy state and a hydrated rubbery state.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ceramics and Composites
- Biomedical Engineering
- Metals and Alloys