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Study Finds that Bifocals May Slow Progression of Nearsightedness in Children

Last month, I touched on a recent study that showed a drastic increase in the number of people with myopia (nearsightedness) over the last 30 years in the U.S.    Not only is the number of people with myopia a public health concern, but so is the progression or worsening of myopia experienced by some children throughout their developing years.

In my practice, it is pretty common to see children that need increasingly stronger and stronger prescriptions, and this process can be concerning and frustrating to both the child and parents.

That is why I’m very interested in a recent study published in The Archives of Ophthalmology that demonstrated the use of bifocals with prisms (and bifocals without prisms) significantly slowed the progression of myopia in children.

In the new study, researchers studied 135 Chinese Canadian children who were diagnosed with progressive myopia, meaning myopia that had worsened significantly over the previous year. The children, whose average age was 10, were assigned to wear either single-vision lenses, bifocals or bifocals with prism, a type of correction that is ground into lenses to help the eyes work together and enhance near vision.

After two years, researchers found the progression of myopia was most rapid among those who wore single-vision lenses. The slowest rate of progression was among children who wore prismatic bifocals — a 58% difference in the rate of progression compared to children wearing single-vision lenses. There was a 38% difference in the rate of progression between users of standard bifocals and users of single-vision lenses.