New Contact Lens Technology Offers Promise to Decrease the Progression of Myopia

By Eye2 Staff

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A new contact lens design for myopia progression control (MPC) developed by Visioneering Technologies, Inc. (VTI), an Alpharetta, Ga.-based start-up, shows significant potential for decreasing myopic progression based on animal study results, according to a paper published in the journal, Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science (IOVS).

Conducted by the Centre for Contact Lens Research at the University of Waterloo’s School of Optometry & Vision Science in Canada, the purpose of the randomized, masked animal study was to determine the effect of wearing VTI’s unique MPC optical design on the development and progression of defocus-induced myopia in newly hatched chickens.

According to the published study, the patented VTI MPC lens designs caused a significant reduction in the development of defocus-induced myopia over a 14-day wearing period as compared to a control contact lens that was identical in every aspect except for the inclusion of the VTI MPC optical design. It further reported that there was also a significant axial length difference with the control group showing increased ocular axial growth as compared to the Test VTI MPC design groups.

“This study using VTI MPC lens designs (-10D) is the first to report nearly complete inhibition of defocus-induced myopia in chickens compared to control lenses (also -10D),” commented Jill Woods, MCOptom, FBCLA, the lead author of the study. “The lack of significant axial length increase seen with the VTI MPC test groups indicates that these lens designs reduced defocused-induced myopia progression through the inhibition of axial elongation.” Dr. Woods added: “Further work is still needed to determine the exact mechanisms by which the lens designs decreased the development of myopia, but the potential shown to decrease the development of myopia was significant.”

Myopia, the inability to see objects clearly at a distance, has a prevalence rate of 40 percent to 50 percent in the U.S. and Europe, with prevalence rates as high as 80 percent in some Asian countries. Myopia is the main cause of distance visual impairment worldwide, and is also associated with an increased risk of certain potentially sight-threatening conditions including glaucoma and retinal detachments.

The chicken model has been used to test the ocular development of myopia and other ocular conditions for over 50 years, according to Elizabeth Irving, OD, PhD, professor and University Research Chair at the University of Waterloo’s School of Optometry and Vision Science and also an author on the publication. Dr. Irving, who has spent most of her career studying the development of refractive conditions in animals and humans, noted: “The chicken model of myopia development is not always directly applicable to humans, but most of the significant findings found in chicks have been subsequently replicated in monkeys and a wide variety of other species, indicating that the chicken model is robust and therefore an indicator of the possibility of similar results with the lens design in humans.”

“To date, various strategies to prevent or slow the progression of myopia in humans, such as bifocals, undercorrection and cycloplegia, have generally either been unsuccessful in the long-term, or given rise to unacceptable side-effects,” according to Sally Dillehay, OD, vice president of clinical and regulatory affairs for VTI.

“If the VTI MPC lens designs can be as effective in humans as they were in this chicken study, the potential for controlling myopia progression is significant,” Dr. Dillehay said. “We have already conducted several short-term trials in humans and the vision with the VTI MPC lenses has been excellent.” VTI is now in the planning stages for the longer-term trials to demonstrate that the lens is effective in humans for decreasing the progression of myopia, according to the company.

Visioneering said its new contact lens technology has multiple applications including control of myopic progression as well as multifocal vision correction for presbyopia. The company expects to introduce a contact lens for presbyopia incorporating its unique technology in early 2014, according to Joe DeLapp, president and CEO of VTI. An intraocular lens using VTI’s technology for presbyopia is also under development.

Visioneering Technologies develops ophthalmic lens technologies for presbyopia and myopia progression control to new contact lenses and IOLs as well as refractive surgery lens designs. DeLapp is an industry veteran with more than 30 years of management experience in bringing new products to the ophthalmic marketplace. Dr. Dillehay has more than 25 years of clinical experience in ophthalmic technologies. The company’s proprietary lens technologies were developed by a former aerospace engineer and optometrist, Richard Griffin, OD.