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Nearsighted Glasses for Myopia Control

Nearsighted glasses for myopia control are eyeglasses with specially designed multifocal lenses to slow the progression of myopia (nearsightedness) in children. This innovation in eyeglass lens technology is relatively new; myopia control lenses are being developed in response to the significant increase in nearsightedness among children worldwide over the past several decades.

In the United States, research has shown the number of nearsighted people grew from about 25% of the population in the early 1970s to roughly 40% of Americans by 2004. 

More recently, a review of several studies about the prevalence of myopia among schoolchildren (ages 6 to 19 years) around the world revealed:

  • 40% of European children are nearsighted.

  • 42% of North American children are nearsighted.

  • 60% of Asian children are nearsighted.

This analysis also found that the percentage of children with myopia is highest in East Asia, where 73% of schoolchildren are nearsighted.

Why myopia control glasses are needed

Myopia (also called nearsightedness or shortsightedness) is not an eye disease. It is a common refractive error — an optical imperfection of the eye that causes blurred vision and can be treated with corrective eyeglasses or contact lenses to restore clear, comfortable eyesight.

(The other two primary refractive errors of the eye that affect children and young adults are farsightedness and astigmatism.)

Though it’s not an eye disease, myopia — especially nearsightedness that develops at an early age and gets progressively worse throughout childhood — significantly increases a child’s risk of serious eye health problems later in life, including:

And the increased risk of these sight-robbing conditions and eye diseases caused by childhood myopia can persist after nearsightedness is corrected — even if it’s permanently treated with LASIK or other vision surgery

This is why routine eye exams are so important for all children. If nearsightedness is detected early and treated with lenses specially designed to control myopia, the risk of vision loss from serious eye problems later in life can be significantly reduced. 

Stellest myopia control lenses

Essilor is a leading eyeglass lens manufacturer that’s on the forefront of developing nearsighted glasses to slow the progression of myopia in children.

The company recently developed an innovative myopia control spectacle lens called Stellest — a multifocal lens designed with an exclusive and pioneering technology called “H.A.L.T.” (Highly Aspherical Lenslet Target), according to the company.

The Stellest lens is the culmination of more than 30 years of academic studies, product design and research collaboration with top myopia experts and research institutes, Essilor says.

The H.A.L.T. technology in Stellest lenses consists of a central zone for clear far vision, surrounded by 11 rings of aspheric “lenslets” that alter how the peripheral part of the lens bends the light that’s entering the eye. This unique multifocal design reduces the tendency of the eyeball to grow longer in childhood, which causes nearsightedness to worsen.

Despite their advanced multifocal design for myopia control, Stellest lenses look virtually identical to standard (“single vision”) eyeglass lenses prescribed for nearsighted children.

In a report released at the 2021 meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), Essilor released updated results of a three-year clinical trial of 167 nearsighted schoolchildren.

The company is conducting the trial with its key research partner, Wenzhou Medical University, in China.

Children in the trial are between 8 and 13 years old. They are divided into two groups: One group wearing Stellest multifocal lenses, and another group wearing standard, single-vision lenses for nearsightedness.

The trial is currently in its third and final year. Two years in, updated findings revealed:

  • After the second year, 67% slower myopia progression (on average) among children who wore Stellest lenses for 12 hours per day or longer, compared to children who wore standard lenses.

  • After the first year, 9 out of 10 children who wore Stellest lenses experienced similar or slower eye growth than children without myopia.

  • After the first year, 2 of every 3 children wearing Stellest lenses didn’t need a prescription change.

  • 100% of children wearing Stellest lenses reported clear vision and adapted to their new lenses within a week. 91% of children adapted within three days.

  • 94% of children reported feeling comfortable wearing the lenses.

The company is planning a broader rollout of Stellest myopia control lenses in other hospitals in China, followed by launches in several other countries.

[NOTE: Bookmark this page and check back for future updates about glasses with Essilor’s Stellest myopia control lenses to slow the progression of nearsightedness as they occur.]

Myopia control alternatives 

Nearsighted glasses with myopia control lenses are one of several methods used to slow the progression of nearsightedness in kids. 

Other options include:

When to see an eye doctor

To make sure your child’s eyes and vision are developing properly and to reduce the risk of myopia progression during childhood, schedule children’s eye exams at the following intervals:

  • 6 months of age

  • Age 3

  • Before starting school

  • Annually throughout the school years

For specialized eye care for children — including the latest myopia control treatments — consider scheduling these exams with a pediatric optometrist or a pediatric ophthalmologist.

Adam Debrowski also contributed to this article.

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