Coming from a family of many generation of myopic people, on both sides, I am excited by this research. Now will it be available to all, or only to a select few, and how will they be chosen? Myopic covert rationing could result in a two tier society where one class pays for early treatment, and the other is denied access – prioritization or restriction. This could also occur by region, and post code… But it is good news..
Children may no longer suffer from short-sightedness if they wear soft contact lenses at night that re-shape their eyes to prevent them from needing glasses, a study suggests.
More than 300 children in Britain and across the world took part in the trials, which showed that lenses could stop the eye becoming misshapen leading to myopia.
The research, which was recently presented to the British Contact Lens Association annual conference, comes after a recent study published by Ulster University which found that the rate of short-sightedness in Britain has doubled over the past 50 years.
Twenty-three per cent of British 12 and 13-year-olds now suffer from myopia, which causes distant objects to appear blurred, while close objects can be seen clearly — compared with 10 per cent in the 1960s. Some experts believe that this is because children no longer spend enough time outdoors.
As part of the new study, every child who wore contact lenses to bed during the three-year trial period experienced no change in their vision, while all the control groups rapidly deteriorated.
The lenses, which are removed each morning, control the shape of the eye so that it grows in the correct manner so that glasses are never needed, a practice known as orthokeratology.
“Parents who are worried about myopic progression in their children now have a viable option,” said Professor Pauline Chom, of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, which carried out one of the trials.
“Orthokeratology has been shown to effectively slow the progression of myopia in children.”
In people with normal vision, the eyeball grows along with the rest of the body and is programmed to stop growing at a point that sustains clear vision. In people with myopia, the typically spherical eyeball becomes elongated, resembling the shape of a grape or an olive.
Jennifer Golden, co-founder and director at iGO Optical, which markets the lenses in Britain, said: “We have whole families using lenses with some children starting to wear the overnight lenses from as young as six years old and who are now aged 13 without experiencing any increase in their prescription. The children who wore overnight lenses suffered minimal deterioration in their eyesight over three years.”
Gordon Ilett, a representative from the Association of Optometrists and a specialist in children’s eyesight, raised concerns about the use of contact lenses at night and called for more testing of the lenses.
“It is emerging technology and there is lots of anecdotal evidence about how brilliant it is, but really we need large population studies to prove efficacy,” he said.