The short-sightedness epidemic in children: should parents be worried and what can we do about it?

The short-sightedness epidemic in children: should parents be worried and what can we do about it?

Credit: School of Optometry and Vision Science - UNSW Sydney

With the last 2 years of on-again, off-again home-schooling and more laptop and computer work than ever, many parents are worried their children are becoming more and more short-sighted. Fortunately, there are now interventions that can help reduce the progression of short-sightedness.

What is short-sightedness and why should we care?

Short-sightedness often develops during childhood and continues to progress until physical growth stops. Short-sightedness is typically caused by accelerated growth of the eye which causes blurred distance vision. In turn, this predisposes the eye to potentially serious conditions such as retinal degenerations/detachments and glaucoma later in life.

What interventions are available?

Research in the last few decades have resulted in the development of interventions including spectacles, soft and hard contact lenses and eye drops which have been shown in clinical trials to reduce the progression of short-sightedness in children by up to 50%.

Lifestyle modifications including regular rest breaks during reading/up-close work, keeping reading material >30cm away from the face and spending 2 hours outdoors each day have also found to be helpful.

Researchers at UNSW Sydney (The University of New South Wales) are seeking volunteer research participants to learn about the effect of two different soft contact lenses on the progression of short-sightedness in children.

Your child will be supplied with the contact lenses for the full 12-month duration of the study. You
will also be provided with a $150 gift voucher at the end of the study for your child’s participation.

The study might be a good fit if your child:

  • Is aged 6-12 years (inclusive)
  • Is willing to wear soft contact lenses daily
  • Has myopia (short-sightedness)
  • Has otherwise normal vision, and good ocular and general health
  • Has not previously used any myopia control treatments for more than 1 month or within the last month
  • Does not have an eye turn, “lazy” eye, or a history of surgery or other treatments or medications which may affect eye growth or contact lens wear
  • Has no plans to move for the duration of the study (1 year)
  • Is competent enough in English to be able to fully understand the participant information and consent form or you can consent on their behalf

  • If you decide to take part, your child would:

    1. Be screened for eligibility. This involves discussing your child’s ocular and medical history, and performing measurements of vision, spectacle prescription using eye drops, eye length, eye shape, eye pressure and other parameters.
    2. If eligible, you and your child would return to be fitted and supplied with two contact lenses, one for each eye. You and your child will also be taught how to insert and remove lenses and use contact lenses safely.
    3. Your child will be asked to wear the supplied lenses over the course of 1 year, inserting a new lens into each eye every day and disposing of the lenses at night.
    4. You will then be asked to return after 1 week and 1, 3, 6 and 12 months, where your child’s ocular and medical history and wear time with the lenses will be discussed and similar measurements as the initial visit performed. Each of these visits will take approximately 1 hour.

    If you would like more information or are interested in being part of the study please contact:

    Rebecca Dang
    r.dang@unsw.edu.au
    02 9385 4624

    Pauline Kang
    p.kang@unsw.edu.au
    02 9602 6115

    Isabelle Jalbert
    i.jalbert@unsw.edu.au
    02 9385 9816

    For more information, please see https://www.optometry.unsw.edu.au/research/volunteer-our-research-studies/myopia-studies

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    featured 2022-05-10 -- 2022-06-30
    49105 - 2022-03-31 19:44:26

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