Soft bifocal contact lenses help improve children's quality of life

Children who went from single-vision distance spectacles to soft bifocal contact lenses with distance centers reported quality of life improvements after 1 month of contact lens wear.

Children who went from single-vision distance spectacles to soft bifocal contact lenses with distance centers reported quality of life (QOL) improvements after 1 month of contact lens wear, according to a new study. If research results confirm the theory that bifocal contact lens wear may slow myopia progression in adolescence, optometrists would have two good reasons to fit youngsters with the lenses.

Dr. Greiner, who practices in Madison, WI, and coauthor Jeffrey J. Walline, OD, PhD, studied 27 subjects, who were age and gender matched to previous spherical soft contact lenses wearers in the Adolescent and Child Health Initiative to Encourage Vision Empowerment (ACHIEVE) study. The subjects, aged 8 to 11 years, had between –1 and –6 D of myopic error, and less than 1 D of astigmatism.

The researchers initially fit the children with a multifocal distance-center lens (Proclear, Cooper Vision) in each eye. They also had each of the subjects take the Pediatric Refractive Error Profile (PREP), a QOL survey designed specifically for children.

The PREP survey, scaled from zero to 100, measures 10 aspects of vision, including overall vision, near vision, far vision, symptoms, appearance, satisfaction, activities, academics, handling, and peer perception.

"At the first visit, they were given the PREP survey for glasses," she said. "Then, at the 1-month visit, they were given the same survey, but it was all about contact lenses. We studied the differences in outcomes of the PREP survey for glasses and 1 month of contact lens wear. We also compared our findings with those of the ACHIEVE study. Subjects in that study with spherical soft contact lenses took the same survey at baseline with their glasses and at 1 month with their spherical soft lenses."

Positive results

At baseline with glasses and at 1 month with contact lenses, there were no statistical differences in the findings between the bifocal soft contact lens and soft spherical contact lens wearers in any of the 10 measures, according to Dr. Greiner.

"Our biggest discovery was that when children in the bifocal contact lenses changed from spectacles to contact lenses, there was a statistically significant improvement in the scale of satisfaction after only 1 month, as well as activities," Dr. Greiner said.

The overall mean score for the PREP survey also increased significantly for both groups with contact lens wear.

The bifocal contact lens study group had an initial overall score of 66.9 (in the glasses survey) and at 1 month, their overall score increased to a mean of 80.6. In the soft contact lens study, the baseline overall score was a mean of 69, versus 80.4 at 1 month.