Objective: To compare physical characteristics of cosmetic contact lenses (Cos-CLs) and conventional contact lenses (Con-CLs) that might affect susceptibility to bacterial adhesion on the contact lens (CL) surface. Methods: Surface characteristics of Cos-CLs and Con-CLs made from the same material by the same manufacturer were measured by atomic force microscopy (AFM) and scanning electron microscopy. To determine the extent and rate of bacterial adhesion, Cos-CL and Con-CL were immersed in serum-free Roswell Park Memorial Institute media containing Staphylococcus aureus or Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Additionally, the rate of removal of adherent bacteria was evaluated using hand rubbing or immersion in multipurpose disinfecting solutions (MPDS). Results: The mean surface roughness (root mean square and peak-to-valley value) measured by AFM was significantly higher for Cos-CL than for Con-CL. At each time point, significantly more S. aureus and P. aeruginosa adhered to Cos-CL than to Con-CL, which correlated with the surface roughness of CL. In Cos-CL, bacteria were mainly found on the tinted surface rather than on the noncolored or convex areas. Pseudomonas aeruginosa attached earlier than S. aureus to all types of CL. However, P. aeruginosa was more easily removed from the surface of CL than S. aureus by hand rubbing or MPDS soaking. Conclusions: Increased surface roughness is an important physical factor for bacterial adhesion in Cos-CL, which may explain why rates of bacterial keratitis rates are higher in Cos-CL users in CL physical characteristics.
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