A new daily disposable contact lens to slow the progression of myopia for children is now available in Australia. NaturalVue (etafilcon A) Multifocal 1 Day contact lenses by Visioneering Technologies (VTI) was developed using the principles of a pinhole camera by the company’s founder Dr. Richard Giffin, an optometrist, optical and aerospace engineer.
Myopia currently affects about 30% of the world’s population and is expected to rise to 50% by 2050.1 In Australia, the rate of myopia has more than doubled since the 1970s. Four million people in Australia and New Zealand are currently affected but that number is expected to substantially rise to 22 million over the next 30 years. Along with allergies and asthma, eye disorders are the most common long-term health problems experienced by children, with about one in six 10–14 year olds wearing glasses or contact lenses to correct sight.
from almost 100 children fitted with the lenses… 90% … demonstrated a very significant decrease in the amount of myopic refractive error change
Ticking Time Bomb
Sydney optometrist and senior lecturer, Dr Jim Kokkinakis, described myopia in children as a “ticking time bomb with serious long-term risks including impaired vision and blindness”.
He said parents need to be particularly vigilant with their child’s eyesight.
“Much of the increase in myopia occurs in school-age children. While genetics play a part, it doesn’t explain the rapid increase in myopia over a generation or two.
“Research has found that one factor in the rapid increase in the incidence of myopia is time spent indoors during childhood when the eyes are developing. Kids are indoors more for various reasons, including watching TV, playing computer games and time spent on phones and other devices.
“While there is currently no cure for myopia, preventing it in the first place, or at least slowing down its progression, can help to limit its severity and help to prevent long-term damaging side effects. Even low levels of myopia can put a child at risk for a number of visually damaging conditions, such as retinal detachment, macular degeneration, cataracts and glaucoma,” said Dr. Kokkinakis.
About one-third of Australian school leavers have myopia, and about three or four% have high myopia. Those with high myopia are more likely to suffer serious eye health problems later in life.
Principles of the Pinhole Camera
Dr Stephen Snowdy, CEO of Visioneering Technologies who was recently in Australia to speak with optometrists, believes NaturalVue Multifocal 1 Day contact lenses are “one of the most significant innovations in the optical design of multifocal contact lenses in a generation.
“Current options, such as spectacles or eye drops, don’t suit all children and can have limitations, risks or side effects. This is about actually slowing the progression of myopia and giving parents a much needed choice,” he said.
“NaturalVue Multifocal 1 Day contact lenses are easier to fit than some current multifocal lenses, which tend to have a degree of compromise between the near and distant vision components that can make fitting the lenses a frustrating and time-consuming experience. In comparison, NaturalVue Multifocal 1 Day contact lenses use the principles of a pinhole camera, which have an extended depth of focus so that near and distant objects can be viewed without blurriness.”
Dr Snowdy says results from overseas have been very promising. Data from almost 100 children fitted with the lenses across 12 different practice locations showed that:
- 90% of the children demonstrated a very significant decrease in the amount of myopic refractive error change, and
- On average, 70% of children showed a complete halting of progression of their myopia changes.
NaturalVue lenses were cleared by the FDA in late 2014 and received the CE Mark, as well as TGA approval in early 2018. VTI also sells and plans additional contact lens products.