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Contact lenses improve vision-related quality of life in children compared with glasses, especially in the areas of appearance and athletics, according to data drawn from a three-year multi-site study assessing the effects of glasses and contact lenses on the self-perception of nearsighted children ages eight to 11 years. The research further reveals that the biggest improvement may be more considerable after 10 years of age.

"The growing body of research in children's vision correction continues to demonstrate that contact lenses provide significant benefits to children beyond simply correcting their vision. This study showed considerable improvement for contact lens wearing children 10 years or older in areas of appearance, participation in activities, and satisfaction with vision correction, and it remained or improved over three years" explains Jeffrey J. Walline, O.D, Ph.D., Ohio State University College of Optometry and leader of the Adolescent and Child Health Initiative to Encourage Vision Empowerment (ACHIEVE) Study, the largest randomized trial of its kind. Findings appear in the August issue of Optometry & Vision Science, the peer-reviewed journal of the American Academy of Optometry.

Researchers note that the most surprising finding may be children's reports of improved quality of life with regard to handling contact lenses compared with glasses, as it is often assumed that glasses are much easier to manage than contact lenses. "Although contact lenses may require more adept handling, daily disposable contact lenses decrease this burden, and the fact that contact lenses may be lost or broken less often than glasses outweighs the slight increase in time spent inserting and removing contact lenses," says Dr. Walline.

About the Study

A total of 484 eight-to 11-year-old nearsighted children participated in the randomized, single-masked trial conducted from September 2003 to October 2007 at five clinical centers in the United States. Children were randomly assigned to wear spectacles (n=237) or contact lenses (n=247) for three years. Children randomly assigned to wear contact lenses were provided the option of daily disposable or 2-week disposable lenses and they chose daily disposable contact lenses 93.3 percent of the time.

Researchers measured outcomes using the Pediatric Refractive Error Profile (PREP), an instrument used to compare the vision-specific quality of life between children affected only with refractive error. PREP is comprised of 26 statements scored from one (strongly disagree) to five (strongly agree). Scores are scaled from zero (poor quality of life) to 100 (good quality of life). The mean score of all questions is the Overall PREP score. The PREP survey was administered at the baseline examination, at one month, and every six months for three years, and consisted of 11 scales: Activities, Appearance, Far Vision, Near Vision, Handling, Peer Perception, Satisfaction, Academics, Symptoms, Overall Vision, and Overall PREP.

Doctors will typically evaluate a child's maturity and level of parental support in deciding whether a child is ready for contact lenses. Dr. Walline advises parents and eye care practitioners to look beyond the visual benefits when choosing the most appropriate vision correction modality for children requiring vision correction.

The study was supported by funding from Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc. and The Vision Care Instituteā„¢, LLC, a Johnson & Johnson Company.

Source: Rah, Marjorie J.; Walline, Jeffrey J.; Jones-Jordan, Lisa A.; Sinnott, Loraine T.; Jackson, John Mark; Manny, Ruth E.; Coffey, Bradley; Lyons, Stacy; the ACHIEVE Study Group "Vision Specific Quality of Life of Pediatric Contact Lens Wearers," Optometry and Vision Science, Vol. 87, August 2010

Source: Johnson & Johnson

Source: Medical News Today