Solving for m(y)opia

Solving for m(y)opia

AOA members can register to attend the myopia workshop, taking place Sept. 30, 2016, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET.

Excerpted from the June 2016 edition of AOA Focus, pages 16-17.

Refractive error always piqued the interest of Jeffrey Walline, O.D., Ph.D. It's the cynosure of his research, and an area of vision science that he strives to continually unveil for better patient care.

"Refractive error is a very common problem that affects millions of people in the U.S. alone; as optometrists, we treat myopia every day," Dr. Walline says. "It has always been my desire that optometrists can read about my research findings and put them into practice on their very next patient."

Associate dean for research at The Ohio State University College of Optometry and former AOA Contact Lens & Cornea Section (CLCS) chair, Dr. Walline has penned numerous studies on pediatric contact lens wear, including their effects on myopia progression. It's for this reason that Dr. Walline features prominently at a landmark event this fall.

Sponsored by the AOA, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other stakeholders, the "Controlling the Progression of Myopia: Contact Lenses and Future Medical Devices" workshop at the FDA headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, on Sept. 30, assembles the leading authorities—many AOA members—to formulate a clinical investigation into stemming the condition that affects nearly 30 percent of Americans.

In an interview with AOA Focus, Dr. Walline—a workshop panelist and presenter—talks about the importance of participating in this landmark, collaborative discussion.

What is your understanding of myopia progression, and what is the role that contact lenses play?

Myopia typically onsets between the ages of 8 and 10 years and continues to progress until 15 to 16 years of age. During that time, it progresses an average of -0.50 diopters per year, but we know that progression is not steady, slows with age and varies widely between individuals. Our goal is to slow that progression to -0.25 diopters per year on average by fitting kids with soft bifocal or corneal reshaping contact lenses. By simply wearing these contact lenses as they would any other contact lenses, children's myopia may not progress as much as it would have otherwise.

What do you, personally, hope to accomplish serving with this FDA study group?

I hope that we can provide a consensus on the variables that are important for the FDA to consider when determining whether companies can advertise that their product 'slows the progression of nearsightedness.' Right now, contact lens myopia control can only be discussed between the doctor and the patient, so many people don't know about the possibility of fitting their children with contact lenses that may ultimately make them less myopic than they would have been otherwise. If companies are eventually able to say that their product slows the progression of myopia, then the message will be provided through mass-market advertisement that will reach many more people.

How significant is it to have so many vested parties, and from such varied backgrounds, in the same room talking about this topic?

Varied expertise and experience will certainly help the FDA think of efficacy and safety of myopia control products from a variety of viewpoints, which is important for the protection of patients. The more issues we can anticipate, the better the FDA will be able to monitor the risks versus the benefits of myopia control, so that they can ensure a safe treatment modality.

How important is it for optometry to be involved in these conversations?

As a profession, optometrists have been trying to slow the progression of myopia through science for many years. Until recently, we have not been successful at finding treatments to significantly slow the progression of myopia without significant side effects. Most of the scientific experts in myopia control are optometrists, so it is important that we help companies be able to market successful myopia control modalities, because that will allow us to provide more patients with myopia control benefits.

Can AOA members influence or participate in this workshop or the future study?

AOA members can register to attend the meeting either in person or online. However, the only way to actually participate in the meeting is by attending in person.

Click here to register for the workshop.

Photo by Jonathan Robert Willis

July 13, 2016

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