Studies Show Multi-focal Contact Lenses Can Slow or Stop Progression of Myopia (Nearsightedness) in Kids
Myopia, or nearsightedness, has a significant impact in the U.S. Not only is the prevalence of myopia among the general population significantly higher than it was 30 years ago, but the progression or worsening of the condition in those who have it is of great concern as well. Progression of myopia in children is a daily occurrence in our offices. Consistently, we see children whose myopia worsens year after year. This of concern not only for optometrists, but also for parents who are rightfully worried about their child’s increasing dependence on glasses for daily activities.
Much recent research has been focused around how to slow, reduce, or even stop the progression of myopia–especially in children. While only a few options exist, research has shown fairly consistently that the use of soft multifocal contact lenses in children does slow or halt the progression of myopia.
While several studies support this treatment option, one particular study looked at myopia progression in children aged 8 to 11 years old over a two year period. Some participants had mild myopia, while others had more severe myopia. They fit the children with a certain type of multi-focal contact lens called a “distance-centered” lens. This is a multi-focal contact that provides the reading power boost without disturbing distance vision. At the two year mark, they found that children wearing the multi-focal contact lenses had 50% less progression of myopia compared to children wearing regular contact lenses. This is a very significant finding.
The issue over how this works is of some debate among those in research and academia. Do these multi-focal contacts reduce myopia progression by relaxing certain focusing muscles of the eye? Or, do they work by slowing elongation of the eye which would typically result in more nearsightedness? Or, is it some combination of the two?
We’ll let the researchers and PhD.’s sort the logistics behind the benefits of the lenses. But, what is clear clinically is that optometrists have evidence for the use of multi-focal contact lenses to help slow the progression of myopia in children. This is extremely important as we increasingly see more children with progressive worsening of their nearsightedness. Parents and optometrists both are concerned about this issue. And, with the development of safer, more breathable, and more comfortable contact lens materials the use is truly a viable option for some children. Not only viable, but according to this study it may be needed to help those children who are continually seeing worsening of their prescriptions.
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