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Researchers at Vision CRC have developed a new range of contact lenses designed to control the progression of myopia in children.

The next generation of myopia control contact lenses, which have not yet been named, are being trialled in China and were scheduled for commercial release in 2015.

Professor Brien Holden, CEO of Vision CRC, said the lenses were capable at this stage of slowing the progression of myopia by around 35-40 per cent. ‘This would lead to a very significant reduction in the rate of high myopia if such an appliance were used and applied across the population,’ he said.

Researchers are working to improve the lenses so that there is an increased reduction in the rate of myopia progression.

The contact lenses, which will be developed as soft daily disposables, work by reducing the peripheral hyperopia that drives myopia.

Professor Holden said the contact lenses were a balance between peripheral plus and a clear vision central zone.

‘What the contact lens has to do is bring the peripheral image forward. In order to do that you have to add plus power to the periphery of the contact lens relative to the central power,’ he said. ‘We also believe it is best to combine these lenses with other strategies that have been proven to work; more time outdoors and myopia control spectacles.’

The myopia control contact lens project has been a partnership between Vision CRC and a team of researchers from the University of Houston, led by Professor Earl Smith and Californian optometrist Dr Tom Aller.

The clinical trial of the contact lenses in China is expected to be ongoing for at least five years with one year results being available mid-2015.

Professor Holden said it was very important for all optometrists to use whatever they had available to them to slow the progression of myopia in children.

‘If myopia takes off at an early age, as it does in some children and those children become highly myopic, then later in life they run the serious risk of retinal damage and an increased risk of cataract and glaucoma,’ he said.

‘Whether optometrists use orthokeratology or myopia control spectacles, or myopia control contact lenses, or behavioural and visual environment modification, they should apply these interventions to every child they come across who is myopic, especially at a young age, because we need to slow the progress of their myopia to prevent problems later in life.’

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