Contact lenses improve self-image in children

March 2, 2009
Ophthalmology Times Staff Reports

When compared with glasses, contact lenses significantly improved self-image in children, according to results from the 3-year Adolescent and Child Health Initiative to Encourage Vision Empowerment (ACHIEVE) Study.

Jacksonville, FL

-When compared with glasses, contact lenses significantly improved self-image in children, according to results from the 3-year Adolescent and Child Health Initiative to Encourage Vision Empowerment (ACHIEVE) Study. Improvements were seen in the children’s perceptions about their physical appearance, acceptance among peers, and ability to play sports, as well as in their confidence about their academic performance.

“Many studies have examined the effect of spectacle wear on self-perception and the perception of others, but the majority of this research has been conducted in adults,” said Jeffrey J. Walline, OD, PhD, leader of the ACHIEVE Study. “Research shows spectacles to be associated with poorer self-perception in adults if they were first worn during childhood. The ACHIEVE study was designed to determine whether children who were dissatisfied with spectacle wear would benefit more from contact lenses than children who did not mind wearing glasses.”

This single-masked study, the largest randomized trial of its kind, was conducted from September 2003 through October 2007 at five clinical centers throughout the country. In all, 484 children with myopia aged 8 to 11 years wore either spectacles (n = 237) or contact lenses (n = 247) for 3 years. Those assigned to wear contact lenses had a choice of daily disposable or 2-week disposable lenses. The children chose the daily disposable contact lenses 93.3% of the time.

Using the Self-Perception Profile for Children scale, the researchers measured five domain-specific subscales: scholastic competence, social acceptance, athletic competence, physical appearance, and behavioral conduct. They also included one global measure of self-worth.

Over the 3-year period, the changes in global self-worth were statistically significant for both groups. The change in contact lens wearers compared with spectacle wearers, however, was not significantly different.

Changes in the physical appearance scale were significantly higher for contact lens wearers than for spectacle wearers, as were the changes in perceptions of athletic competence, scholastic competence, and social acceptance. These latter changes remained stable in spectacle wearers but increased for contact lens wearers.

“The growing body of research in this area suggests that parents and eye-care practitioners should look beyond the visual benefits of contact lens wear when choosing the most appropriate vision correction modality for children as young as 8 years of age,” Dr. Walline said.

The ACHIEVE study was supported by funds from Johnson & Johnson Vision Care Inc. and the Vision Care Institute LLC, a Johnson & Johnson Co.

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