Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) levels and subunit isozyme patterns in cornea were monitored in 36 albino rabbits wearing thick, rigid, gas-permeable contact lenses for periods of 24 h, 2 and 7 days, and 1 and 3 months. The oxygen transmissibility of the contact lens was 15.3 x 10-9 (cm/s) (ml O2/ml mm Hg). The activity of LDH in corneal tissue decreased according to the duration of lens wear. The LDH isozyme patterns shifted with lens wear from LDH1,2,3 (heart type, aerobic) to LDH4,5 (skeletal muscle type, anaerobic). The cornea swelled 8.8% with overnight contact lens wear, with increased swelling (11-12%) after further continuous lens wear. After contact lens removal, however, the LDH activity and the isozyme pattern returned to normal, and the corneal thickness quickly returned to normal. Based on these observations, it is suggested that LDH in rabbit corneas was physiologically affected by lens-induced hypoxia, but these changes were reversible. These results might further suggest that tear LDH levels in the human contact lens wearer could provide an ongoing assessment of the tolerance of the lens by the ocular surface.
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