There are around 130 million contact lens wearers globally.1 However, a significant number discontinue lens wear each because of discomfort,2-7with 'dry eye' a common factor.

Ocular Comfort Program

'Dry eye' is one of the most common ocular complaints but it's not as simple as it sounds. Dry Eye is a disorder of the tears and ocular surface that results in eye discomfort, visual disturbance, and often ocular surface damage. Producing insufficient tears is only one of several possible causes.
  • Five to 30 percent of adults aged 50 years or older have some degree of dry eyes.8 It is more common in women than men and the prevalence is higher in Hispanic and Asian populations.8
  • Possible symptoms of dry eye syndrome include sore, watery, red eyes and scratchy, burning/stinging sensations on the eye.
  • Common risk factors of dry eyes have been identified. Examples of these include: old age, female gender; post-menopausal oestrogen therapy; a diet low in omega 3 essential fatty acids; refractive surgery; vitamin A deficiency; radiation therapy; some systemic conditions, and certain classes of medications.

Research Projects


‘Dry eye’ causes discomfort for millions of people worldwide – itching, redness, pain and blurred vision are all symptoms of it. Over $1 billion is spent each year by people on artificial tears to combat it but its pathophysiology and etiology is complex and remains unclear.

While the tiny meibomian glands in our eyelids secrete a substance (meibum) to protect and prevent our eyes from drying out, when they aren’t functioning properly ‘dry eye’ can be the result. In fact, meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) is the leading cause of dry eye.

Our researchers are now investigating whether bacteria might be the key to unlocking the mystery of dry eye and developing better treatments. They are looking into the microbial community that inhabits the eye’s surface, the ‘ocular microbiome’, to determine if it plays a role in the development of MGD. A change to the balance of this ‘commensal’ community may lead to eyelid inflammation, changes to the composition of the eye’s tears or to the quality of meibum produced by the gland.

We are developing a ‘dry eye’ over-the-counter (OTC) drop that will protect against bacterial disruption and help maintain a healthy tear layer. This would be the first such product on the market that seeks to address the aetiology of dry eye.


This study is investigating the natural changes of meibomian glands that occur with ageing. The meibomian glands are found in the upper and lower eyelids and secrete an oily substance called meibum. This substance forms the uppermost (lipid) layer of the tear film, the overall function of which is to protect and lubricate the corneal surface of the eye. The presence of a good quality lipid layer is vital to the integrity and stability of the tear film and subsequently ocular comfort as this prevents the tear film from evaporating.

Meibomian gland dysfunction occurs when the gland becomes obstructed, or when there are changes to either the amount or quality of meibum secreted, restricting its ability to support a healthy tear film. When the gland is not functioning properly, symptoms such as those associated with dry eye may occur, causing discomfort. Such symptoms include itching, redness, pain and blurred vision. Severe dry eye may also result in vision loss if left untreated.

Data Mining

Through a host of clinical studies related to contact lens wear we have collected data related to the subjective comfort experience of thousands of subjects. We are now utilising these data to generate novel hypotheses about key factors associated with contact lens discomfort.


  1. Fonn D. The contact lens wearer base. Eye & Contact Lens 2011;37(6):331.
  2. Pritchard N, Fonn D, Brazeau D. Discontinuation of contact lens wear: a survey. Int Contact Lens Clin 1999;26:157-62.
  3. Richdale K, Sinnott LT, Skadahl E, Nichols JJ. Frequency of and factors associated with contact lens dissatisfaction and discontinuation. Cornea 2007;26:168-74.
  4. Young G, Veys J, Pritchard N, Coleman S. A multi-centre study of lapsed contact lens wearers. Ophthalmic Physiol Opt 2002;22:516-27.
  5. Evans VE, Carnt NA, Naduvilath TJ, Holden BA. Factors Associated With Drop Out From Silicone Hydrogel Contact Lens Daily Wear. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci 2008;49:E-Abstract 4839.
  6. Vajdic C, Holden BA, Sweeney DF, Cornish RM. The frequency of ocular symptoms during spectacle and daily soft and rigid contact lens wear. Optom Vis Sci 1999;76:705-11.
  7. Schlanger JL. A study of contact lens failures. J Am Optom Assoc 1993;64:220-4.
  8. International Dry Eye WorkShop Subcommittee, 2007, ‘The epidemiology of dry eye disease: Report of the epidemiology subcommittee of the International Dry Eye WorkShop (2007), The Ocular Surface, April 2007, Vol 5 (2).