Contact lenses are one of the most successful biomaterials in history with a global market estimated to be worth over $17 billion in 2025. Silicone hydrogel contact lenses dominate the market and are complex biphasic biomaterials with several critical material properties needed for clinical use. Careful consideration of composition and chemistry is needed to identify formulations of lenses meeting all commercial standards with the potential for improved manufacturability, cost, and/or next generation use. Four silicone macromers were investigated in this work with varying symmetry of siloxane units and macromer structure, number of siloxane groups, branching, length, and concentration. Novel silicone hydrogel lenses were produced and evaluated for optical transmittance, elastic modulus, oxygen transmissibility, water content, and surface wettability. Several lenses met commercial standards and demonstrated an increase in oxygen permeability (Dk) and inverse relationship with elastic modulus and siloxane concentration, respectively. A hydrophobic/hydrophilic ratio below 1.4 was needed for a co-continuous water phase. Substitution of methoxypropyl groups for butyl groups increased hydrophobic microdomains leading to decreased optical quality and mechanical properties. Generally, fluorine-containing silicone macromers allowed for a wider range of successful compositions, and above a certain hydrophilic composition, the presence of trifluoropropyl groups resulted in improved solubility and optically clear lenses. Data also showed asymmetric siloxane macromers have potential to meet critical lens properties at lower overall siloxane content. New lens materials with wider composition ranges meeting all clinical lens properties is a significant challenge and may significantly expand the field.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ceramics and Composites
- Biomedical Engineering
- Metals and Alloys