Short-sightedness (known as ‘Myopia’) runs in families like the Osborne’s where Mum, Dad and their twin sons aged 12 are all sufferers. Over the last 30 years short-sightedness in Europe and North America has increased by 66% meaning that it has become a key health issue facing more and more families. However, results from a major new study into Myopia Control has revealed that children fitted with a new type of contact lens worn only while they sleep can actually halt the progression of their short-sightedness.
The SMART Study (Stabilization of Myopia by Accelerated Reshaping Technique)1 into ‘Myopia Control’ has just entered its third year. It is a 5-year longitudinal study in the greater Chicago area of the US. The treatment group of 172 children are wearing the new Overnight Contact Lens and 110 children in the control group are wearing conventional soft contact lenses. At the end of each year the children from both groups stop wearing their lenses for one month and their prescription is measured to see if there has been any change. The 2nd year results of the SMART Study were presented recently at the Global Speciality Lens Symposium in Las Vegas and revealed that those wearing soft contact lenses saw an overall rate of increase in their myopia over the two year period of almost one full diopter which is equivalent to 3-4 lines on an eye test chart. However, after two years there was no clinically significant increase in myopia in those wearing the new overnight contact lenses.
As a result of reading a report about the SMART Study last year, Nicky Osborne decided to switch her twins Alex and Dan out of glasses and into the new overnight lenses. Both children are very sporty and not being allowed to wear their glasses made participation in sport difficult. It was decided that Alex, who has the stronger prescription, should try the lenses first and after just one night of sleeping in the lenses his prescription reduced from -4.75D to -1.75D. “We were all amazed, you just can’t describe this to someone and it just got better and better” says Nicky. Alex says “I liked the idea of having contact lenses that I did not have to think about during the day. With my glasses I always had to take them off and worry about my glasses case falling out of my pocket when playing football at break at school and then remember to put them on again for class.”
Whilst myopia rates in the western world have always been assumed to be 25%, new research2 published last December said that myopia in people aged 12-54 has increased to 42% since the early 1970’s – a rise of two-thirds. This substantial increase in myopia has been attributed primarily to more time being spent indoors focusing on nearby objects and less time spent outdoors in natural light. Modern lives are increasingly screen-based – spending long hours staring at TVs, computers and mobile phones – and today’s children are particularly vulnerable. The younger age at which myopia starts the more rapidly it progresses, increasing on average by 0.5 diopters per annum which is consistent with the changes recorded for the control group in the SMART study. It is normally diagnosed around the age of 10 and stabilises around the age of 20 so by the time these children reach their teens they will have “chronic myopia”. High myopia prescriptions are also associated with increased risk of retinal detachment, glaucoma, cataracts and even blindness.
Nicky started wearing glasses herself aged 7 and her prescription is now -10.00D. “I have always been very aware of eyesight problems, the twins were tested from a very young age and we had eye tests as a family”. It became apparent that Alex needed eyesight correction by the age of 9 but it was 18 months later before Dan needed glasses. Both are now 12 with prescriptions of -4.75D and -2.00D respectively.
“I held off from getting them fitted with contact lenses because I was not sure how the twins would manage with putting the lenses in and taking them out. Also, daytime contact lenses can fall out when playing sport so they were not the ideal solution anyway. When I heard about the new overnight contact lenses I thought they would be worth trying.” The fact that there might be a way of averting the twins reaching the very high prescription levels that Nicky herself has to deal with was a key motivator in looking into overnight vision correction for her sons.
The lenses are only worn at night and gently reshape the eye while sleeping by exerting a pressure on the tear film, which in turn flattens the cornea thereby correcting the focusing distance on the retina. By holding the eye in the correct shape as it develops the lenses act like a dental brace. When they are removed in the morning full vision correction is maintained for over 24 hours. A unique computerised map of the eye surface is generated enabling a personalised blueprint to be created from which the lenses are then designed and made. It takes around a week to get good stable vision and top-up soft lenses are supplied for those of higher prescriptions if necessary. The lenses can be worn at any age but for children the additional benefit of “myopia control” is significant.
Alex’s treatment was such a success that it was decided that Dan should also start wearing the lenses. “I wasn’t keen at first because it seemed like a lot of effort. But after seeing how good the results were on my brother I thought that if he could do it then so could I. It has changed the way I see things, I used to peer and squint at things. I would not want to go back – I hated my glasses.”
Most parents do not realise that children can wear contact lenses. Research has shown that while only 8% of children are actually fitted, 97% are very happy with them – much higher than for adults. Jennifer Golden CEO of i-GO Optical - the company which markets the new overnight lenses in the UK under i-GO name – says “Whilst the lenses are relatively new there are already over 100,000 people worldwide successfully and safely wearing them, a large proportion of whom are children. Overnight lenses have major benefits for children not least because of the added freedom and confidence its gives them at school. Also parents are in full control over their child’s vision because it insertion, removal and cleaning of the lenses is all carried out at home. But the most compelling argument in favour of overnight lenses has to be their ability to arrest the development of myopia as soon so that children can grow up without the major disadvantages associated with chronic short-sightedness.”
Shelly Bansal, independent optician and specialist contact lens practitioner who has fitted a number of adolescents says ”Over the years there have been many products which have claimed to halt myopia progression in children and now for the first time there is real evidence to support overnight vision correction as a treatment for short-sighted children. The results of the study speak for themselves, there are no real downsides and parents have the added assurance that their child has constant good vision throughout the day and full control as the lenses are only used in the home environment”.
For more information please contact Jennifer Golden 07976 439060 or Jennifer@igolenses.com
EXCLUSIVE CASE STUDIES
. Below are new cases not yet published other Paediatric case studies can be seen on our website
1. Two 11 year old twins from the Home Counties started wearing the lenses in October
2. A family of three 15, 14 and 6 from North London all now wearing i-GO.
3. A child actor aged 10 who needed to get rid of glasses for a part he was auditioning for.
4. Son of a doctor who has high myopia
5. Mother and daughter who both use the lenses
NOTES TO EDITORS
· The SMART Study uses i-GO OVC contact lenses which is the UK trademark for the Emerald Lens design a US trademarked and patented contact lens made by Euclid Systems Corp, Herndon,VA
· The contact lenses are suitable for people who are shortsighted with a prescription of up to -5.0D who are mildly astigmatic -1.5D or less – this equates to around 75% of all short-sighted people.
· HOW OVERNIGHT VISION CORRECTION WORKS i-GO is a non-invasive risk free alternative to laser eye surgery – the minimum age for laser treatment is 21 with a stable prescription for two years
· Initial computer design and fitting is from £200, a direct debit from £40 per month covers initial lenses and six monthly replacements, all aftercare, annual eye-checks and cleaning solutions. A small annual NHS allowance can be claimed against the treatment.
· The lenses are a European CE marked medical device and received US Food and Drugs administration approval for overnight wear in 2004. They have also just received government approval in China.
· i-GO OVC contact lenses are only available on prescription through i-GO accredited opticians. Interested consumers can contact i-GO on 0844 7362579 or visit www.igolenses.com for a full list of accredited opticians
AVAILABLE FOR INTERVIEW
· Dr S Barry Eiden, OD, FAAO – The SMART Study Lead Clinician
· Shelly Bansal FBDO, (Hons)CL, FBCLA – Clinical consultant for i-GO, Ciba Vision, Johnson and Johnson
· Dr Trusit Dave PhD, BSc(Hons), MCOptom, FAAO – Independent researcher, practitioner, international speaker and co-author of the definitive text "Orthokeratology: Principles and Practice".
· Caroline Christie BSc (Hons) FCOptom DipCLP – Lecturer, City University and international speaker on children’s vision
· SMART Study – (The Stabilization of Myopia through Accelerated Reshaping Technique)
A 5 year longitudinal study currently underway in the greater Chicago area of the US. It is funded by EyeVis Eye and Vision Research Institute. At the end of each year the children from both groups stop wearing their lenses for one month and their prescription is measured to see if there has been any change. Year two findings were presented at the Global Specialty Lens Symposium by Dr S Barry Eiden, OD, FAAO in Las Vegas (January 2010)
Susan Vitale PhD, MHS Epidemiologist at the National Eye Institute,; Robert D. Sperduto, MD; Frederick L. Ferris III, MD Archives of Ophthalmology December 2009;127(12):1632-1639. (2009)
· Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds – The Kaiser Family Foundation
Children spend 7hrs a day using some type of screen based electronic device (2010)
Kathryn A. Rose, PhD, Ian G. Morgan, BSc, PhD, Jenny Ip, MBBS3, Annette Kifley, MBBS, MAppStat, Son Huynh, MBBS, MMed (ClinEpi), Wayne Smith, BMed, PhD4, Paul Mitchell, MD, PhD (2009)
· Johnson and Johnson Girls’ Overall Self-Worth Improves With Contact Lens Wear, Study Shows (2009)