Future looks bright for the short-sighted

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 May, 2011, 12:00am


Short-sighted schoolchildren, of whom there are many in Hong Kong, can look forward to a brighter, clearer future.

Polytechnic University researchers have come up with a contact lens that can halve the speed at which short-sightedness, or myopia, gets worse.

The researchers asked more than 150 Hong Kong children aged from eight to 13 to try out the lens. They found that wearing it five hours a day could slow down the progress of myopia by about 50 per cent.

The defocus incorporated soft contact (Disc) lens won a grand prize and gold medal at the 39th International Exhibition of Inventions in Geneva last month.

The soft contact lens provides clear vision but at the same time projects blurred, out-of-focus images onto the retina, where the eye's vision sensors lie.

This stops the eyeball from growing too long, which causes short-sightedness, Professor To Chi-ho said.

He said the Disc could lower the risk of blindness for the 80 per cent of people under the age of 30 in Hong Kong who are myopic.

'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,' To said.