Impression cytology has allowed researchers to look more closely at the cells within the conjunctiva and to study the differences between those tissues that were not exposed to contact lenses and those that were. Various studies have been carried out on various specifications, however it is the cell density that interests many scientists and medical professionals. Cell density, and in particular the density of what are called Goblet cells, are of importance to contact lens studies in relation to the conjunctiva.
Cytology of the conjunctiva is best served by the in vivo method which deals with light reflection differently than other methods of study and actually allows the researcher to gain a better view of the tissue in question. Through this methodology, it is possible to have a closer view of the effects that contact lens use is or is not having on the various tissues of the conjunctiva. In vivo methods of study on the eye area will allow doctors and scientists to not only more closely monitor their subjects but to see more clearly through infections on the tissue being studied and specifically to study the conjunctiva through contact lenses which would otherwise prove a hindrance (Doughty, 2000).
Conjunctival microscopes are responsible for much of the newer data concerning eye care and health, and in fact this is a unique way for a machine to interpret its own information and have it displayed on a cellular level. Other types of microscopes will focus on certain parts of the tissue that the confocal microscope will pick up; thus scientists are able to attribute not only a cellular picture to the tissue they are studying but to see an actual diagram of the body-part that includes textures as well as placement of the cellular particles. Using in vivo technologies for conjunctival studies means that researchers will also be able to monitor more minute changes in the tissue over time and properly record alterations in the eye over short and long term situations. It is important that such changes be documented so that all possible causes can be identified and weighed; in vivo is very useful in measuring the particulars of eye tissues, such as the blood cell density and other related physical characteristics of the conjunctiva (Jalbert, 2003).
Goblet cells are certain cells within different tissues whose primary role is to create and secrete mucus. The name 'Goblet' refers to the actual shape of such cells, which are easily identifiable because of both their shape and their deep red color. These cells are plentiful within the conjunctiva because that is the main objective of the membrane itself: to secrete mucus and subsequently protect the tissues beneath it and keep them free from bacteria (Connor, 1994). It is the hypothesis of many doctors and scientists that the mucus secreted by these cells within the conjunctiva will increase when the tissue is damaged because this would help protect the tissue below the membrane; in turn, it is also assumed that contact lens wearers are more susceptible to eye infections and conjunctival damage. Because of this susceptibility, the