SEATTLE, Wash. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — By the year 2050, five billion people will have myopia, or nearsightedness, according to the Journal of Ophthalmology. Part of the problem could be kids and too much screen time. A researcher at the University of Washington has developed glasses to counteract excessive eye growth, which leads to myopia.
Twelve-year-old Olivia Kwan has worn glasses since first grade.
“I couldn’t even see things that my friends, even though they had glasses, could see,” Kwan told Ivanhoe.
Both her parents have myopia and knew Olivia’s eyes would get worse. So they got her into researcher Jay Neitz’s trial for glasses to slow or stop progression.
Jen Chan, Olivia’s Mom, said, “If there was an opportunity to help her either sort of slow down or stop her myopia and also contribute to the medical field to help other kids, I was all for that.”
Jay Neitz, PhD, Professor, Department of Ophthalmology at University of Washington says as kids grow, their eyes ideally lengthen until they have perfect vision. Too much time in front of a screen confuses the eye since everything is in focus. The eye keeps growing, leading to myopia.
Neitz said, “We have invented glasses that are designed to make images on the retina more like images would normally fall when people are not reading or having things close to their eyes.” (Read Full Interview)
The glasses look like this. They make things on the periphery blurry, like it would be if you were outside. That signal slows lengthening of the eye.
“It thinks, “Oh, everything’s cool because I’m focused close, but things in the periphery are blurry. I must not need to grow anymore,” Neitz explained.
Kwan’s had the glasses for a month and says she can already tell a difference.
“The glasses that I was accustomed to only a few months ago were now too strong for me,” Kwan shared.
Kids who wore the glasses in the last trial showed 70 percent slower progression than those in a control group. In the next few months, Neitz plans to start a much bigger trial for kids between six and fourteen.
Contributors to this news report include: Wendy Chioji, Field Producer; Rusty Reed, Videographer; Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Hayley Hudson, Assistant Producer; Dave Harrison, Editor.
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TOPIC: MYOPIA GLASSES
REPORT: MB #4464
BACKGROUND: Myopia, or nearsightedness, is the most common refractive error of the eye. Those with myopia typically will have difficulty reading road signs and seeing distant objects clearly, but will be able to see close up objects well. Myopia occurs when the eyeball is too long, causing light rays to focus at a point in front of the retina, rather than directly on its surface. Myopia typically begins in childhood and a person may be at higher risk if their parents are nearsighted. In most cases, it stabilizes in early adulthood but sometimes it continues to progress with age. Signs and symptoms of myopia include squinting, eye strain, and headaches. Feeling fatigued when driving or playing sports can also be a symptom of uncorrected nearsightedness.
TREATMENT: Myopia can be corrected with glasses, contact lenses, or refractive surgery. Depending on the severity of myopia, a person may need to wear glasses or contact lenses all the time or only when clear distance vision is needed. Glasses can come with anti-reflective coating and high-index lenses for thinner, lighter glasses. Refractive surgery can reduce or even eliminate a person’s need for glasses or contacts. Orthokeratology is a non-surgical procedure where special rigid gas permeable contact lenses are worn at night and reshape the cornea during sleep. When the lenses are removed in the morning, the cornea temporarily retains the new shape so the person can see clearly without glasses or contact lenses. Implantable lenses known as phakic IOLs are a permanent surgical option for correcting myopia, particularly for individuals with severe cases.
DEGENERATIVE MYOPIA: In most cases, myopia poses little or no risk to the health of the eye, but sometimes it can be so progressive and severe it is considered a degenerative condition. Degenerative myopia is relatively rare condition that is believe to be hereditary and usually begins in early childhood. About two percent of Americans are afflicted, and degenerative myopia is a leading cause of legal blindness. In malignant myopia, the elongation of the eyeball can occur rapidly, leading to a quick and severe progression of myopia and loss of vision. Degenerative myopia significantly increases the risk of retinal detachment and other degenerative changes in the back of the eye, including bleeding in the eye from abnormal blood vessel growth (neovascularization). It also may increase the risk of cataracts.
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