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Special contact lenses could potentially stop myopia from progressing


October 3, 2012

Experimental new contact lenses may stop childhood-onset myopia from progressing as the patient gets older (Photo: Shutterstock)

Experimental new contact lenses may stop childhood-onset myopia from progressing as the patient gets older (Photo: Shutterstock)

For younger readers with perfect eyesight, here’s something you might not know – glasses and contact lenses don’t do anything to cure nearsightedness, they only help compensate for it. In fact, the wearer’s vision often continues to deteriorate as they age. Now, however, a team of scientists have developed special contact lenses that they claim can halt the condition if it’s caught in childhood.

Nearsightedness, more properly known as myopia, is a result of the eye becoming too long. This causes light from distant objects to be focused slightly in front of the retina, instead of right on it. The result is that things that are far away appear out of focus.

Glasses and contact lenses bring those objects back into focus, by helping to once again focus light onto the retina. However, according to David Troilo, a biomedical scientist at the State University of New York College of Optometry, there’s a trade-off. He claims that while corrective eyewear does indeed correct myopia by focusing light on the center of the retina, it actually causes a small amount of hyperopia (farsightedness) in the peripheral retina.

As a nearsighted child grows, says Troilo, their eye can actually lengthen even farther in an attempt to compensate for the peripheral hyperopia caused by their eyewear. This, unfortunately, just results in the myopia getting even worse.

Working with colleagues at the university, he has created contact lenses that don’t cause the peripheral hyperopia. They do this by incorporating different focal powers within a single lens, either alternating across its surface, or confined to its outer edge. When tested, the contacts “successfully reduced the elongation of the eye that causes myopia progression.”

Troilo says that several versions of the lenses may soon be available for use on young patients.

Source: OSA

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

I started wearing glasses at 8 years old and they got progressively thicker til I was twenty. I found out that the best thing I can do is stare at the sun until I get cataracts. Then I can qualify for free Fred Hollows style lens-replacement surgery which will correct the myopia perfectly. Then I will no longer have to explain to people that its NOT caused by excessive masturbation.


As a moderated miope who refused to wear glasses, vanity stopped continuing down the long eye road when hard contact lenses were employed. When solt lenses cam along the miopia increased. No one talks about the 60 mg of mercury of pressure on the back of the eye when we squint. Both my wife and I now in our 60s have had or refractive error reduced by one full diopter, since adding organic sulfur to our diet. Something Dr. Rasban seldom sees in his optometric practice, nor I when photographing the retina of man. Always so many diopters away. Remember the squint necessary to see "20 20."

Patrick McGean

Really? Corrective lenses don't actually cure nearsightedness? Who knew?!?

Fairly Reasoner

This story has been around for a while... One quick google search revealed an academic paper on the subject "Bifocal soft contact lenses as a possible myopia control treatment: a case report involving identical twins" and there are many others.


David Heard
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