Our eyes are getting worse and worse, and scientists aren’t exactly sure of the reason why.
Myopia has exploded in recent decades, especially in East Asia, with the loss in distance vision affecting as many as 90 per cent of students in China.
Worldwide as many as 27 per cent of people are nearsighted, and the World Health Organisation expects that number to rise to 50 per cent by 2050.
With the epidemic rising too fast for it to be entirely genetic, experts have looked at environmental factors such as near work and too little time spent outdoors.
While wearing eyeglasses is merely an inconvenience to most, myopia is also associated with a risk of blindness and serious eye problems such as glaucoma and macular degeneration.
While there’s unlikely to be a single cure for myopia, a US-based, ASX-listed medical device company believes its innovative new contact lens can potentially help save children’s distance vision.
A clinical trial following 141 children wearing Visioneering Technologies’ (ASX: VTI) NaturalVue multifocal lens for up to four years has shown they have been experiencing a 90 per cent decrease in myopia.
The children on average had one diopter of better vision at each time point, compared to before they were wearing the contact lenses.
Visioneering says the disposable lenses have an extended depth of focus, delivering a wider range of clear vision than traditional single vision or multifocal lenses.
“The smooth, gradual, continuous nature of the relative plus power increase creates an extended depth of focus and has been shown to provide visual acuity and stereoacuity similar to vision with the best-corrected spectacle refraction,” researchers Jeffrey Cooper and colleagues wrote in a 2018 study tracking 32 children who wore the lenses.
More than four-fifths of those patients showed a complete halting of their myopic progression, with 98.4 per cent showing at least a reduction in the rate their vision was declining.
Like many companies, Visioneering has been weathering the Covid-19 storm and had to reduce its headcount in April from 42 to 20 employees.
But the Georgia-based company says it has seen the beginnings of a recovery and in July entered the market in Canada, Singapore and Hong Kong.
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