Can GP Contact Lenses Control
Myopia in Children?
Research has shown that GP contact lenses may be able to slow the progression of nearsightedness in some young people.
Adolescents who are myopic (nearsighted) typically have "progressive myopia" that is, their nearsightedness becomes progressively greater over time. If left uncontrolled, myopia results in a higher incidence of complications such as retinal tears and detachments, glaucoma, cataracts, and a reduced quality of life.
Recent research studies have shown that certain types of contact lenses can slow the eye growth that results in increased myopia. These lenses can, therefore, slow or stop the progression of myopia.
GPs and Myopia Progression
An independent survey conducted in 2000 for the Contact Lens Manufacturers Association queried more than 3,300 top contact lens practitioners about myopia management with GP contact lenses. Of those surveyed, 76% said the #1 reason for recommending GPs to school-aged children is either to "slow the progression of myopia" or to "enhance vision."
Several studies have found that although standard GP lenses worn by some children may result in less myopia progression than wearing soft lenses or glasses, they have no effect on slowing eye growth.
What Research Says About Myopia Control
What is exciting, however, is specially designed GP lenses used for overnight orthokeratology (also termed corneal reshaping, corneal refractive therapy, and Vision Shaping Treatment). When worn only at night, they have been found to slow down eye growth by more than 50% compared to soft lenses and glasses, according to studies by Drs. Jeffrey Walline, Pauline Cho, and Helen Swarbrick.
These designs reshape the front surface of the eye (the cornea) and reduce existing myopia in qualified candidates when worn at night only, allowing wearers the freedom of not wearing contacts or glasses during the day.
Contact lenses used to slow or stop myopia progression typically overnight orthokeratology, and to a lesser extent, special-design soft lenses can focus light on the back of the eye (the retina) in a way that signals the eye to slow or stop its lengthening process.
This is particularly exciting as in the next few years it's likely that contact lenses will be introduced that could be worn temporarily by young children at night until their eye growth has sufficiently slowed. After that, they might not need to wear any form of vision correction at all.
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[Page updated May 2013]