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Catalonia develops the first contact lenses which impede the onset of myopia

Dr. Jaume Pauné of the Universitat Politècninca de Catalunya has devised a new type of progressive contact lens, the first of its kind. These contact lenses actually slow the onset of myopia, or near-sightedness, by as much as 43%. Wearing the lenses, which have already been tested and are available for purchase, brings about a decrease of three to five dioptres in the user. This technology is especially recommended for children and youths, as the progression of myopia manifests itself primarily between the ages of nine and 30. However, wearing the contact lenses would be beneficial to any adults suffering from progressive myopia. These lenses are unique in that they influence one´s peripheral vision as well as their central vision, and they do not function using a bifocal system as conventional lenses do. 

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07 March 2016 07:04 PM

by

ACN

Barcelona (CNA).- Progressive new contact lenses which actually slow the advancement of myopia, or near-sightedness, have been developed by Dr. Jaume Pauné of the Universitat Politècninca de Catalunya (UPC). The reduction in the onset of myopia was registered at as high as 43%, measuring a difference in increase of between three and five dioptres. This technology could be especially beneficial for young children and youths, as myopia develops and progresses mainly between the ages of nine and 30. However, anyone who suffers from myopia can benefit from this technology, which is unique in that the lenses are designed to influence one´s peripheral vision and do not use a bifocal system, as conventional lenses do. The lenses have already undergone and passed a testing period of two years and are now available for purchase; Dr. Pauné describes them as “universal”, meaning they are accessible and affordable for a large demographic.


Dr. Jaume Pauné, with a doctorate in Optometry and Vision Science from the Universitat Politècninca de Catalunya (UPC) has developed the first contact lens in the world that slows the advancement of myopia by as much as 43%.The lens functions bymodifying the way the retina focuses; it controls peripheral blurring and thereby blocks the optical signal that causes the eye to expand, which in turn leads to the advancement of myopia. Conventional lenses function by modifying the centre of the retina, while those developed by Dr. Pauné affect both the centre as well as the lateral part of the retina, progressively encompassing the entirety of the retina.This means that the eye doesn’t have to expand in order to achieve a clear image, which in turn halts the decline from three to five dioptres (the unit of measurement of the optical power of a lens), in what is considered to be a normal progression period. The lens is especially recommended for children and youths, as it´s estimated that this progression first manifests itself between the ages of nine and 30.

Myopia, more commonly known as near-sightedness, affects between 25-30% of the population without tertiary studies, and as much as 45% of those with a higher education degree.Pauné noted that it´s very important to halt the advancement of myopia in children and youths. Said urgency stems from the fact that, from five dioptres on, there is an increase in the risk of developing serious illnesses which could lead to blindness.

In his doctoral thesis, Pauné developed the innovative contact lens with the aim of halting said progression. Supervising his thesis were professors Jesús Armengol and Lluïsa Quevedo of the Facultat d´Òptica i Optometria de Terrassa (FOOT) of the UPC. The design of the lens is based on studies which demonstrate that although one may see distant objects clearly while looking straight ahead, he or she will continue seeing blurred images peripherally. This same effect, which causes the progressive onset of myopia, is what the lens is designed to counter.

The purpose of these soft contact lenses is to obtain clear and focused vision, including for images in the lateral area of the subject´s vision. This would then produce a gradual correction of the wearer´s eyesight and thereby prevent the eye from expanding in order to achieve a focused image. Said expansion is what causes the progression of myopia.

Pauné affirmed that one of the biggest differences between his lenses and conventional ones is that the latter are not progressive, and they accustom the eye to using a bifocal system, in which one area focuses on distant objects and another focuses on nearby objects. Conversely, Dr. Pauné´s lenses are progressive; they provide a single image to the eye which acts as an optical signal, thereby granting stable vision. Moreover, these lenses are custom-made, as it´s necessary to know the shape of the wearer´s eye to be able to adjust them in order to achieve the desired result.

The lens has already been tested by a hundred patients or so. The study, which lasted two years, showed that wearing the lenses halted the advancement of the pathology by up to 43%. The clinical trials were conducted at the Centre Marsden (located in the Centre Mèdic Teknon), the UPC Facultad d´Òptica i Optometria de Terrassa, the Centre de Desenvolupament, Sensors i Sistemes, the Centre Universitari de la Visió de la UPC, and the Universidad de Minho in Portugal.

A universal system

Dr. Pauné emphasised that one of the most significant advantages of his creation is that these lenses are by all intents and purposes “universal”, as they are affordable, comfortable, easy to adapt to, and do not require very advanced technology to be able to utilise them and follow up on them. The lenses, which are already available for purchase, are priced at 400 euros per year, including monthly or quarterly replacements.

The doctor is also the creator of the Ortok contact lenses. These contacts are to be worn at night, during which time the cornea responds to the lenses by copying the shape of the lenses’ “mould”, thereby granting the user perfect vision the following day. However, Dr. Pauné cautioned that this method is more expensive and less accessible to the general population.

Pauné explained that his are the first progressive lenses of their kind. Although a similar technology already exists in Hong Kong, these use a bifocal method, creating two images, while the technology devised in Catalonia functions using a single image.

Especially recommended for children and youths

These new contact lenses are especially recommended for children and youths, as their age makes them more susceptible to the advancement of the pathology. On average, near-sightedness begins to manifest itself around nine years of age; it´s estimated that 25% of children suffer from myopia by the time they are 13, a number which increases to 45% in university students.

Nevertheless, the doctor explained that this technology can also be used by adults over the age of 30, as the progression of myopia is currently present in higher age groups as well. Inasmuch, the contact lenses would be useful for any adult who suffers from advancing myopia. Additionally, while studies have not yet been released due to the modernity of this issue, Pauné noted that the use of tablets and mobile phones also affects the progression of myopia. 

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  • Dr. Jaume Pauné of the Universitat Politècninca de Catalunya has devised a new type of progressive contact lens which  impede the onset of myopia (by ACN)

  • Dr. Jaume Pauné of the Universitat Politècninca de Catalunya has devised a new type of progressive contact lens which impede the onset of myopia (by ACN)