Short-sighted treatment makes myopia worse

A new approach to the design of glasses and contact lenses for people with myopia (short-sightedness) will have huge benefits for the 3.6 million Australians with myopia.

Studies in Sydney with 12 year old children showed that myopia progressively worsened when correcting myopic eyes with traditional negative powered correcting lenses even though they give clear central vision.

Myopia affects 1.45 billion people worldwide, and its prevalence is increasing rapidly.

The Vision Cooperative Research Centre (Vision CRC) will be presented with an Award for Excellence in Innovation for its coordination of an international project to improve treatment of myopia.  The project involved partners in the USA, UK, China, India and Australia.

The old approach to correcting myopia relied on measuring the performance of the eye at just the very centre of the retina, the fovea.  This gave clear central vision to the wearer of the corrective lenses, but ignored the fact that with myopes the peripheral image was behind the retina.

This provoked the eye to grow which led to worsening of the myopic condition, found Professor Earl Smith from the University of Houston, a partner in the Vision CRC.

A new approach based on these findings, and trialed in clinical studies with children in Australia and China, created new glasses and contact lenses that bring the peripheral image closer to the retina while maintaining clear central vision slows the progress of myopia.

Vision CRC leader, Assoc. Professor Padmaja Sankaridurg found that lenses employing the new technology also improved peripheral vision. The spectacles are available now commercially through CRC partner, Carl Zeiss Vision, whose Australian manufacturing facilities are based in Adelaide.

Professor Brien Holden, CEO of Vision CRC, says Australians are likely to benefit from the lifestyle and eye health benefits that arise from better eye products such as these. “Less myopia and less severe myopia would reduce the risk of serious eye diseases such retinal detachment, glaucoma and cataract.

“Australia will benefit from a royalty stream estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars over the next 15 years from these products,” he says.  “Our first major CRC product, high oxygen permeable soft contact lenses, sells over $2billion per year globally and has earned Australia over $150 million in royalties and $100 million in research fees. Products that slow the progression of myopia could revolutionize vision care”.

The Award will be presented by Professor Margaret Sheil, CEO of the Australian Research Council, at the annual conference of the CRC Association.  The Awards Dinner is on Wednesday 18 May at the Brisbane Convention and Entertainment Centre.

Further information

Professor Brien Holden
CEO, Vision CRC
Stephen Davis
Communication Manager, Vision CRC
0450 661 695