Oxygen permeability is the most important parameter of contact lenses, as lack of oxygen causes corneal edema and threatens the vision of the patient. This study was unique in that it used an electron spin resonance (ESR) technique to determine the oxygen diffusion coefficient (D) of contact lenses. Although there are many methods and techniques for investigating oxygen diffusion into contact lenses, ESR was used for the first time in this study. The ESR technique is based on the scavenging of radicals produced ill lenses by oxygen. As a contact lens is not a paramagnetic substance, it cannot give an ESR spectrum. But it does produce an ESR spectrum after gamma irradiation. When a vacuum-irradiated contact lens is exposed to air, the radicals trapped in the let-is are transformed into peroxide radicals by the addition of molecular oxygen to the free radicals, and the ESR spectrum begins to change with time. This effect can be used as a tool to measure oxygen uptake in irradiated contact lenses. The oxygen diffusion coefficient of a contact lens was determined from changes in ESR signal intensity varying with time. The diffusion coefficients of oxygen for a contact lens were determined for rapid decay [(1.5 + 0.4) X 10(-1) cm(2)/s] and slow decay [(1.3 + 0.3) X 10(-1) cm(2)/s] in this study. These values are in agreement with the D values given in the literature for polymeric materials used for contact lenses. (c) 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.