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Contact Lenses to Slow the Progression of Myopia

Posted in 'General' on January 26, 2020 by Stuart Macfarlane
Contact Lenses to Slow the Progression of Myopia

What is Myopia? 
Myopia is otherwise known as short-sightedness. It is a specific eye condition whereby light focuses in front of the retina. By the time light reaches the retina, the image is blurred. This refractive error can occur where the eyeball is too long (axial) or where the cornea is too powerful (refractive). In some cases the condition is so severe that without visual correction, the person would be considered legally blind.

When does Myopia occur?
Although it can develop at any age, myopia develops more commonly around puberty and less commonly in the late teens.
"Your child needs glasses" - often these are the words that a parent dreads hearing. Myopia is becoming more common and studies based on Asian school children in Taiwan and Singapore have found that almost 90% of teenagers graduating from high school are myopic. In Western countries, the incidence of myopia is 40% of the population.

Problems associated with Myopia
The potential problems associated with high myopia are numerous. They include:
  • an increased risk of retinal detachment
  • an increase in retinal tears
  • cataracts
  • retinopathy
  • glaucoma.
Severe myopia can preclude refractive surgery such as LASIK from being performed.
 
How do you get Myopia?
There is some controversy as to whether the development and progression of myopia is related to nature or nurture. In other words, is myopia genetic or is it environmental? Certainly there is definitely a genetic component - if both parents are short-sighted you have a 1 in 3 chance of developing short-sightedness yourself.

So, can anything be done to slow or halt the progression of myopia?
HappyMyopia control contact lens studies have shown that a contact lens which has been specifically developed to under-correct focus in a particular part of the retina, will effectively reduce the progression of myopia. This is particularly exciting as the research has been conducted here in Australia.
This research by Aller and Wildsoet, has shown that a particular design of contact lens can reduce the progression of myopia. The study showed an 87% reduction in myopia progression for the first year of wear.
 
In a 2011 study based in New Zealand, researchers studied the progression of myopia in 40 short-sighted children between the ages of 11 and 14 years old. Myopia progression was reduced by 30% or more in 70% of the children. The research suggests that with specialised contact lenses, a specific type of peripheral defocus in the lens can slow the progression of short-sightedness without compromising the visual function.

Contact Lenses for Myopia control
The commonly prescribed contact lens for myopia control studies are the MiSight and Biofinity Multifocal D lens.  

Side Effects of Corrective Lenses for Myopia
There are some side effects of wearing this type of contact lens: 

  • Bifocal and multifocal contact lenses are slightly thicker than standard single vision contact lenses. Although this can occasionally cause a longer adaptation period for the lenses, most children adapt to the lenses within a week or two.
  • Children also require a responsible attitude to maintain their contact lenses and to lessen their chance of developing an eye infection. 
  • The vision with multifocal contact lenses is not quite as crisp as the vision with a single vision lens.  This is due to the optics of a multiifocal lens which relies on simultaneous close and distance vision through each lens. 
Otherwise there are no risks that are particular to multifocal lenses over the risks found in wearing the more commonly prescribed single vision contact lens.
 
Please contact us if you have any questions.