Skip to Content

A Fancy Contact Lens To Prevent Childhood Myopia

We could be looking at a long-term solution to worsening shortsightedness.

A contact lens that guides the growth of a young eyeball could stall worsening myopia in kids.

At the Optic Society’s annual meeting this week, a vision scientist called David Troilo will propose his idea to freeze the progression of childhood nearsightedness. His solution: A new kind of contact lens with varying powers, or focal lengths, mixed in.

Troilo, vice president and dean of academic affairs at the SUNY School of Optometry, studies growth of the human eye from early childhood to adulthood. His team fitted out marmosets with such “multizonal” lenses—with alternating rings of positive and negative focal lengths. They found that the eyeballs of the cuddly primates shrank. The team has also tested lenses with the variable focal lengths restricted to the outer edges.

A myopic eyeball is a too-long one, and as anyone who grew up with prescription glasses will tell you, it has trouble bringing distant objects into focus. Genes and reading habits are some of the factors that influence how near-sightedness gets worse in some children. But Troilo’s current work has another element at its focal point. That’s the hypothesis that the natural course of an eye’s growth can be swayed by the kinds of images it sees as it develops.

Regular corrective lenses for myopia have just a single focal length. They focus a sharp image onto just a section of a rather expansive retina. Because of the way the periphery of the retina responds to this image reception—goes this theory—the eyeball grows longer in response. And as the eyeball elongates, nearsightedness gets worse.

By messing with what the periphery of the retina sees, Troilio and team show that this trend can be stopped. Troilo writes in the summary to his talk that his graduated contact lens could stop myopia from getting out of hand, and shows promise to even reverse it altogether.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

computation concept
computation concept

How AI is reinventing what computers are

Three key ways artificial intelligence is changing what it means to compute.

still from Embodied Intelligence video
still from Embodied Intelligence video

These weird virtual creatures evolve their bodies to solve problems

They show how intelligence and body plans are closely linked—and could unlock AI for robots.

We reviewed three at-home covid tests. The results were mixed.

Over-the-counter coronavirus tests are finally available in the US. Some are more accurate and easier to use than others.

conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned
conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned

A horrifying new AI app swaps women into porn videos with a click

Deepfake researchers have long feared the day this would arrive.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.