From WikiMD's Food, Medicine & Wellness Encyclopedia

(Hydroxyethyl)methacrylate (HEMA) is a monomer that is primarily used in the production of various polymers. It is a clear, colorless liquid with a characteristic odor. HEMA is notable for its versatility and its use in a wide range of applications, particularly in the field of dentistry and ophthalmology.

Chemical Structure[edit | edit source]

HEMA is an ester of methacrylic acid. Its chemical formula is C6H10O3. The molecule consists of a methacrylate group and a hydroxyethyl group. The hydroxyethyl group makes HEMA a hydrophilic monomer, which means it has an affinity for water. This property is crucial for its use in certain medical applications.

Production[edit | edit source]

HEMA is produced through the reaction of ethylene oxide and methacrylic acid. This reaction is typically carried out in the presence of a catalyst, such as sulfuric acid. The resulting product is then purified through distillation.

Applications[edit | edit source]

Dentistry[edit | edit source]

In dentistry, HEMA is used in the formulation of dental resins. These resins are used in a variety of dental procedures, including dental fillings, dental crowns, and dental bridges. HEMA's hydrophilic nature allows it to bond well with the moist environment of the mouth, ensuring the durability and longevity of the dental work.

Ophthalmology[edit | edit source]

HEMA is also used in the production of contact lenses. Its hydrophilic properties make the lenses comfortable to wear, as they can retain water and remain soft and flexible. HEMA-based contact lenses are also oxygen permeable, allowing the eyes to breathe.

Safety[edit | edit source]

While HEMA is generally safe for use in medical applications, it can cause irritation if it comes into contact with the skin or eyes. In rare cases, prolonged exposure can lead to allergic reactions. Therefore, it is important to handle HEMA with care and use appropriate protective equipment.

See Also[edit | edit source]


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