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Start-Up Licenses Children’s Myopia-Control Contact Lens

DISC lens

DISC lens used in preclinical tests (Hong Kong Polytechnic University)

23 January 2018. A start-up enterprise spun-off from Hong Kong Polytechnic University is licensing the technology for a customized contact lens that controls and prevents further myopia in children. Terms of the licensing agreement with Vision Science and Technology Co. Ltd. in Hong Kong, including financial details, were not disclosed.

Myopia, another name for nearsightedness, occurs when the length of the eye, from front to back, grows beyond the ability to focus on objects far away. People with myopia can see objects up close, such as reading and computer screens, but find it difficult to see objects in the distance. When undiagnosed, the condition can lead to eye strain and headaches. Myopia has a particularly high occurrence among people of East Asian heritage; National Eye Institute in the U.S. cites recent (2016) data showing by age 15, 69 percent of people in East Asia have myopia, compared to 42 percent of Americans, and 5.5 percent of individuals in Africa.

Researchers at PolyU, led by optometry professors Chi-ho To and Carly Lam, developed the Defocus Incorporated Soft Contact, or DISC, lens to correct myopia in children. DISC is a bifocal lens designed with concentric circles, having a correction zone in the center and alternating defocusing and correction zones on the periphery. The lens provides a clear image on the retina and a defocused, or blurred, image in front of the retina, which together simulate normal vision. A self-correcting mechanism then allows the eyes in children wearing the lens to grow and develop more like normal than myopic eyes. The lenses are custom-fitted for each user.

To, Lam, and colleagues tested the DISC lens in a 2-year clinical trial among 128 school-age children with myopia in Hong Kong. Participants in the trial were randomly assigned to wear either the DISC lens or a single-vision lens for comparison. Overall, myopia progressed 25 percent more slowly among the children wearing DISC lenses, who also experienced less elongation of their eyes, the growth pattern that supports myopia. Participants wearing the DISC lens for longer periods were also more likely to experience less progression of their myopia, with children wearing the lens for 5 hours or more a day reporting 46 percent less myopia progression than participants with single vision lenses.

PolyU protects DISC technology with patents from mainland China, U.S., Australia, and Europe. Vision Science and Technology Co., founded in 2016, licenses the technology and is recruiting a network of optometrists in Hong Kong to measure and fit the lenses for wearers. Among the fitting centers, as the company calls them, is PolyU’s optometry clinic, which will also train other optometrists in the device. The company plans to manufacture DISC lenses with a silicon hydrogel that the company says allows 4 to 8 times more oxygen to the eyes than conventional lens materials, allowing for longer wearing times.

Vision Science and Technology received financial support and incubation from university and local Hong Kong entrepreneurial sources.

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