Highly Transparent Covalent Mucin Coatings Improve the Wettability and Tribology of Hydrophobic Contact Lenses

Carolin A. Rickert, Barbara Wittmann, Roland Fromme, Oliver Lieleg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


A stable, good coverage of the corneal tissue by the tear film is essential for protecting the eye. Contact lenses, however, constitute a foreign body that separates the tear film into two thinner layers, which are then more vulnerable toward disruption. This effect is even more pronounced if the contact lenses possess an insufficient surface wettability, which, in addition to friction, is suggested to be linked to discomfort and damage to the ocular surface. In this study, we establish covalent surface coatings with mucin macromolecules to overcome this issue for pure silicone contact lenses. This material class, which outperforms state-of-the-art silicone hydrogels in terms of oxygen permeability, is not yet used for commercial contact lens applications, which is due to its strongly hydrophobic surface characteristics. The applied process stably attaches a transparent mucin layer onto the contact lenses and thereby establishes hydrophilic surfaces that not only prevent lipid adsorption but also interact very well with liquid environments. Most importantly, however, we show that those mucin coatings are indeed able to prevent wear formation on corneal tissue that is subjected to the tribological stress applied by a contact lens. Our results open up great possibilities for a variety of hydrophobic materials that are, to date, not suitable for a contact lens application. Furthermore, the ability of mucin coatings to reduce wear in a tissue/synthetic material contact might be also beneficial for other biomedical applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28024-28033
Number of pages10
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number25
StatePublished - 24 Jun 2020


  • PDMS contact lenses
  • glycoprotein coating
  • lipid repellency
  • ocular health
  • surface modification
  • wear formation


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