I just ran across a press release today announcing promising early results of a study named the Stabilization of Myopia by Accelerated Reshaping Technique (SMART) Trial – The study is a five-year trial of a treatment called overnight orthokeratology (also known as corneal refractive therapy or vision shaping treatment). In this treatment, patients wear a rigid, specially designed contact lens at night which reshapes the cornea leading to clearer vision during the day. This treatment was approved in 2002 for use in the USA to treat myopia (or nearsightedness), and I believe it has been used elsewhere, particularly in Japan, for longer. It is worth noting that the treatment does not cure nearsightedness; like glasses, it only treats it. When patients go for a few nights without wearing the lenses, their vision will go back to their normal prescription.
The exciting thing about this trial, though, is that it is looking at whether overnight orthokeratology can actually slow or even stop the progression of myopia in children. Myopia tends to get worse through childhood, and for parents with young children who are already significantly myopic, the idea of their vision worsening is very concerning. As mentioned above, the SMART trial is a 5-year trial that will follow 300 children aged 8 – 14. The trial is only one year in, however, the early results appear promising. The children wearing the overnight orthokeratology lenses showed little to no change in their myopia, compared with those who wore soft contact lenses during the day whose nearsightedness got progressively worse. It is worth noting that these results are coming from a press release, and nothing has been published in a peer reviewed journal yet – this isn’t surprising as the study isn’t finished – but it is building on existing studies which have shown similar results. It will be very interesting to watch this study and see how the results look at the end of the trial, but the possibility of arresting the progression of nearsightedness is very exciting!
If you’d like to learn more, you can read more about the treatment and study in this article: Nighttime contact lenses show promise in controlling nearsightedness, or see a video of two young girls using the lenses at Bright Eyes News.