New lens halves myopia progression

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 May, 2011, 12:00am


Researchers at Polytechnic University have developed a contact lens that halves the inevitable progression of short-sightedness from childhood.

The research team recruited over 150 Hong Kong children aged from eight to 13 to try out the lens and found that wearing it for five hours a day could slow down myopia progression by approximately 50 per cent. The lens is called the defocus incorporated soft contact (DISC) lens.

The DISC's innovative way of controlling the progression of myopia was recognised when it won the grand prize and gold medal at the 39th International Exhibition of Inventions in Geneva last month.

The lens is a bifocal soft contact lens that simultaneously provides clear vision and constant myopic defocus, a technique whereby images are projected as a blurred image on the front of the retina.

This stops an excessively long growth of the eyeball that causes short-sightedness or myopia. This is because 'if images are put in front of the retina it produces optical signals. These translate into biochemical signals' said To Chi-ho, the deputy director for the centre of myopia research at the university.

'The retina recognises these signals and then transmits biochemical compounds like protein or other small molecules to the eye white, which slows down the growth of the eye.'

To is confident that the DISC will be 'very relevant' to the 80 per cent of people under the age of 30 that are myopic in Hong Kong. 'If you slow down the amount of myopia by 50 per cent you can shift the whole section of the population who would be at risk of blindness caused by myopic degeneration because they are high myopic to relatively low myopic.

'We would like to join forces with a contact lens company to make this available to the public and to increase the dose so that we can get better results. Instead of a 50 per cent decrease we aim to have a 70 to 80 per cent decrease or even a reversal of myopia altogether.'