TORONTO – Wearing a special type of lens helped slow the progression of near-sightedness in children during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, according to the results of a new study.

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The paper, published in JAMA Open Network on Friday, found that while the COVID-19 lockdown caused children’s vision to deteriorate, optical defocus treatment helped slow the progression of myopia by 46 percent. Axial elongation—the lengthening of the eyeball that is a major cause of nearsightedness—was reduced by 34 percent compared to regular single vision lens treatment.

“During the COVID-19 lockdown, the progression of myopia was significantly faster with increased exposure to myopiagenic factors as compared to pre-pandemic conditions. Furthermore, despite the negative association between COVID-19 lockdown and myopia progression, optical treatment with DIMS lenses was significantly associated with slower myopia progression,” states the Hong Kong Polytechnic University study.


Defocus incorporated multiple segment (DIMS) lens developed by researchers at the university’s School of Optometry and Hoya Vision Care, a Japanese company that manufactures optical products including glasses and contact lenses. The corrective lens is made up of hundreds of tiny segments that each provide myopic defocus, but the structure of the lens still allows the wearer to see clearly. Previous research has shown that myopic optical defocus can help control the progression of near-sightedness.

Previous studies have also suggested an increase in myopia in children during COVID-19, possibly due to more screen time and less time outside due to lockdowns and virtual classes.

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A study looking at school-age children in China, the first country to tackle large-scale school closures, found that the prevalence of myopia in each age group increased significantly in 2020 compared to previous years, especially between the ages of six and eight. For children of age.

The JAMA study, believed to be the first of its kind conducted during the pandemic, compared data from two studies involving 171 school children aged seven to 13. One included 115 participants who wore DIMS lenses for their near-sightedness for 18 months and the other included 56 participants who wore single vision lenses for 24 months.

Participants underwent eye exams at the Optometry Research Clinic of Hong Kong Polytechnic University. To evaluate the impact of the lockdown, the researchers analyzed the results of visits after June 2019. In-person classes and activities were halted in Hong Kong in February 2020 and will not resume until May 2021.

Some of the limitations of the study include differences in sample size and differences in baseline characteristics of the two study groups, the researchers said. The scientists noted that DIMS lens wearers were younger and more nearsighted and had higher risk factors that could contribute to myopia.

“Outcomes associated with the severity of the lockdown were observed to be similar in both groups, which strongly suggests that baseline population differences do not affect this outcome,” the paper said, adding that the results should be helpful to clinicians in near-adjusted children. Can help to better manage vision, especially during pandemics. ,


An earlier version of the story incorrectly stated that a study had 151 participants instead of 115.