Specialty contact lenses may one day help halt the progression of nearsightedness in children

October 2, 2012
This is a diagram of myopia in the human eye. Credit: National Eye Institute

Nearsightedness, or myopia, affects more than 40 percent of people in the U.S. and up to 90 percent of children in some parts of Asia. The problem begins in childhood and often progresses with age. Standard prescription lenses can correct the defocus but do not cure nearsightedness, and do not slow progression rates as children grow.

But recent experimental work by biomedical scientist David Troilo and colleagues at the State University of New York (SUNY) College of Optometry in New York City supports the development of a potential cure for myopia by using specialty contact lenses that coax the eye to grow in a way that can correct nearsighted vision while reducing myopia progression. Troilo will describe his findings at the Optical Society's (OSA) Annual Meeting, Frontiers in Optics (FiO) 2012, taking place Oct. 14 in Rochester, N.Y.

Myopia develops when the eye is too long, making it difficult to focus light from distant objects on the retina. Glasses or contact lenses that correct the defocus on the main visual axis can create a slight degree of farsightedness in the peripheral retina, Troilo says. The peripheral farsightedness may worsen myopia because as grow, the eye grows to move the retina to where the light is focused, naturally lengthening the eye even further.

Troilo has shown that specially designed that alter how light is focused in the peripheral retina can induce changes in growth that help reshape the eye in the desired way. The experimental lenses use different focal powers within a single lens: either alternating focal powers across the lens, or confined to the outer edge. Experiments with the new lenses found that they changed eye growth and refractive state, or focus, in a predictable way. The lenses successfully reduced the elongation of the eye that causes myopia progression.

Several contact lens designs may soon be available to help doctors manage the progression of myopia in children, Troilo says. Presentation FW1C.1 "Optical Approaches for Controlling Progression: Evidence from Experimental Models" takes place Wednesday, Oct. 17 at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center.

Explore further: Study offers hope for more effective treatment of nearsightedness

Related Stories

Myopia appears to have become more common

December 14, 2009

Myopia (nearsightedness) may have been more common in Americans from 1999 to 2004 than it was 30 years ago, according to a report in the December issue of Archives of Ophthalmology.

Medication slows progression of myopia in children

August 26, 2008

Daily treatment with a medication called pirenzepine can slow the rate of progressive myopia, or nearsightedness, in children, reports a study in the August issue of the Journal of AAPOS (American Association for Pediatric ...

A safer alternative to laser eye surgery?

May 11, 2010

A new type of procedure for correcting short-sightedness could be safer than laser eye surgery, according to a new Cochrane Systematic Review. The study also shows that patients prefer the new procedure, despite there being ...

Recommended for you

Spider-web 'labyrinths' may help reduce noise pollution

October 17, 2017

(Phys.org)—Researchers have demonstrated that the geometry of a natural spider web can be used to design new structures that address one of the biggest challenges in sound control: reducing low-frequency noise, which is ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

2.4 / 5 (5) Oct 02, 2012
1 / 5 (2) Oct 02, 2012
Not really. Myopia is caused by Western diet and lifestyle. Very few Russians required vision correction prior to importing and processing food Western style.
3 / 5 (4) Oct 02, 2012
Not really. Myopia is caused by Western diet and lifestyle.

Svyatoslav N. Fyodorov, a Russian ophthalmologist, pioneered radial keratometry as a surgical correction for myopia in the 1970's. At the time, it was cheaper to have a doctor do surgery for myopia than to pay for a pair of glasses. The vision was about 20/40 after surgery, which was done in an assembly line fashion, not acceptable by Western standards, but good enough to drive a tractor with. So it is not true that Russians did not suffer nearsightedness in pre-Westernized days.

Also, low-protein diets are associated with myopia, so if anything, the high-protein Western diet should have helped reduce myopia, not increase it.

Myopia is strongly associated with the amount of near-point work done during the body's growth periods, mainly in childhood. If we did no reading and spent all our childhood hunting and fishing, myopia would be much less prevalent.
not rated yet Oct 02, 2012
Not really. Myopia is caused by Western diet and lifestyle. Very few Russians required vision correction prior to importing and processing food Western style.
It's difficult to say so easily, because the level of health care in Soviet Union was correspondingly low and nobody recognized their problems soon. Also, most of Russians were forced to work manually, so that the myopia didn't represent so big trouble for them.
1 / 5 (2) Oct 02, 2012
That's radial keratotomy, not keratometry, typo.

Presbyopic contact lenses have differing focal lengths, either through fresnel designs or aspheric surfaces. I wonder how these lenses are made. I have never seen presbyopic contact lenses used in children, but bifocal glasses are prescribed for myopia control in children. So in theory, presbyopic contact lenses could be used to control myopia in children, as they would reduce the demand on accomodation which is associated with myopia progression. So it would be interesting to find out whether these are the types of lenses mentioned in the article.

not rated yet Oct 03, 2012
Kevin's comment should be removed citing the rule against pointless verbaige, for which I have had longer comments removed. No double standards, moderators.
not rated yet Oct 04, 2012
Nice idea, but is it really practical?Myopia can start at quite early in childhood.Has anyone thought about the difficulties in getting many pre-teens or younger to wear them or manage them in the way that they need to be managed?A young child is quite unlikely to pay due consideration to what they are about to do, even with something as simple as rubbing their eyes vigorously, let alone consider how clean their hands may be.Or manage the required routine to keep them clean & sterile(for those who are unfamiliar,they need to be put in a special solution, to kill any nasties growing on them)This is not to mention that children's eyes can be quite sensitive in the first place &as such may not be able to tolerate plastic directly on their eyeballs.I received my first glasses at age 11(my myopia went unrecognised for too long)& tried contacts at 16 but even then,I couldn't wear them for long.So I was forced back to glasses.Later,Lasik surgery would prove utterly liberating.Best RegardsDH66
not rated yet Oct 06, 2012
Too late for me...
1 / 5 (1) Oct 22, 2012
A noninvasive treatment for myopia exists.

A body produced substance (production halts three months ofter birth and the substance is broken down and removed after this) at birth makes the eyes pliable for muscles shaping the eyes at that time during focus attempts. This substance has been isolated and is reintroduced to adults. The eyes become pliable again. You wear farsighted glasses - the muscles reshape the pliable eyes to a round shape again. The substance is remove naturally again from the body.

The conflict of interest is:
The optical industry vs. pharmaceutical industry.

The research never saw completion - clinical trials.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.