Soft multifocal contact lenses can reduce the progression of myopia in children by up to 50%, a new study suggests.

Forty children, aged eight to 11, with a spherical component ranging from -1.00D to -6.00D and less than 1.00D astigmatism were fitted with soft multifocal contact lenses with a +2.00D add.

The researchers conducted A-scan ultrasound and cycloplegic autorefraction at baseline, after one year and after two years of treatment.

Published in the November 2013 edition of Optometry & Vision Science, the results of the study were age- and gender-matched to participants of a previous study that fitted children with single vision contact lenses.

The researchers compared the rate of change of myopia and axial length between single vision and soft multifocal lens wearers.

The mean spherical equivalent progression of myopia at two years in single vision lens wearers was -1.03D ± 0.06D vs. −0.51D ± 0.06 for multifocal lens wearers. The mean axial elongation in single vision wearers was 0.41D ± 0.03D compared to 0.29D ± 0.03D in multifocal wearers.

Both measurements showed statistically significant changes.

When compared to the historical control group, not only did the soft multifocal contact lenses result in a 50% reduction in myopia, but also a 29% reduction in axial elongation during the study’s two-year period.

More long-term research needs to be conducted on the potential for soft multifocal contact lenses to control myopia, but the early results show promise.

Walline JJ, Greiner KL, McVey ME, et al. Multifocal contact lens myopia control. Optometry & Vision Science. 2013 Nov;90(11):1207-14.