A recent study in the US could offer hope to the millions of people around the world who suffer from nearsightedness – also known as myopia – and substantially improve their quality of life by making it easier to deal with the condition.
The research was conducted by Professor David Berntsen, a University of Houston College of Optometry assistant.
It involved comparing the effects of wearing and then not wearing progressive addition lenses, better known as no-line bifocals, in children who are nearsighted, and involved examined 85 children from six to 11 years old over the course of two years.
Selected according to their eye alignment and accuracy of focusing on near objects, the myopic children were fitted with either normal single-vision lenses or no-line bifocals to correct their nearsightedness. In addition to observing and testing the children, the doctors obtained feedback from parents and guardians of both the children's outdoor activities and near-work tasks, such as reading and computer use.
The study, which was published in Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, used myopic children who were selected according to their eye alignment and accuracy of focusing on near objects.
They were fitted with either normal single-vision lenses or no-line bifocals to correct their nearsightedness, with doctors observing and testing the children, as well as obtaining feedback from parents and guardians of both the children's outdoor activities and near-work tasks, such as reading and computer use.
Previous research suggested that nearsighted children who do not focus accurately when reading books or doing other near work may benefit more from wearing no-line bifocal glasses than nearsighted children who focus more accurately.
According to the study, there is evidence of small yet statistically significant slowing of myopia progression in children wearing the bifocals compared to those who simply wore single-vision lenses.
Professor Berntsen explained: "While the small effect found in the group of children wearing bifocal spectacles does not warrant a change in clinical practice, we found the beneficial effect was still present for at least one year after children stopped wearing no-line bifocal lenses."
"This is promising if other optical lens designs can be developed that do an even better job of slowing how fast myopia increases in children," he added.