Soft contact lenses do not hasten myopia in children

May 15, 2008

Soft contact lens wear does not accelerate the development of myopia in children, a new study shows.

Fort Lauderdale, FL-Soft contact lens wear does not accelerate the development of myopia in children, a new study shows. Findings from the 3-year study were presented recently at the annual meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.

According to the multi-site trial, no clinically meaningful difference exists between spectacles and contact lenses for treating nearsightedness in children. The new research further dispels a belief that soft contact lenses increase myopia progression more than other vision correction options.

"Children as young as 8 years old who require vision correction are capable of contact lens wear, and this study confirms that they can safely be fitted in soft contact lenses to correct their myopia," said Jeffrey J. Walline, OD, PhD, Ohio State University College of Optometry, Columbus, and leader of the Adolescent and Child Health Initiative to Encourage Vision Empowerment, or ACHIEVE, Study, of which this research was a part.

The purpose of this study was to measure refractive error, corneal curvature, and axial length of children aged 8 to 11 years randomly assigned to wear single-vision glasses (n = 237) or soft contact lenses (n = 247) for 3 years to compare the rate of myopic progression with each mode of correction over the 3-year period. A total of 484 myopic children participated in the single-masked trial conducted from September 2003 to October 2007 at five clinical centers in the United States.

Measurements were conducted prior to randomization and annually. Nearly all (467 or 96.5%) of the subjects were examined at the final visit. Myopia in the spectacle-wearers progressed –1.08 ± 0.71 D, and in the contact lens wearers myopia progressed –1.27 ± 0.72 D (analysis of covariance, p = 0.005); although that difference is statistically significant, the difference is less than can be clinically measured. The axial growth was 0.59 ± 0.37 mm for the spectacle-wearers and 0.63 ± 0.34 mm for the contact lens wearers (analysis of covariance, p = 0.27). The change in the steep corneal meridian was 0.05 ± 0.69 D for the spectacle wearers and 0.10 ± 0.70 D for the contact lens wearers (analysis of covariance, p = 0.43). Those differences were not statistically significant.

The study was supported by funding from Vistakon, a division of Johnson & Johnson Vision Care Inc.