Hong Kong – Myopia, otherwise known as short-sightedness, is a growing global health problem and is expected to affect as many as 2.5 billion people worldwide by 2020. This condition affects many Chinese school children in Hong Kong. To rectify this existing issue, Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) has recently developed the Defocus Incorporated Soft Contact (DISC) lens that is to be commercialised in hope to effectively retard myopia in children.
The multi-zone DISC lens is a result of the research conducted by Professor To Chi-ho and Professor Carly Lam from the School of Optometry of PolyU. For one with myopic conditions, the light which enters the eyes focus in front of the retina rather than on them; therefore, the pair have designed the lens to use the natural homeostasis in the eyes to produce clear images on the retina and blur images in front of them. Thus, the eyes will tend towards a shape and into a size that allow them to receive focused images as they would with normal vision.
“Because the DISC lens uses the natural homeostasis of the eyes, thus, the wearer can avoid adverse effects from drugs and surgery”, Prof To remarked. More importantly, a two-year clinical trial showed that the lens retarded myopia progression by approximately 60% in Hong Kong’s school children aged 8 to 13; and most importantly, children found the lens comfortable to wear.
Optical defocus can be incorporated into widely accepted forms of contact lenses to provide clear and comfortable vision while controlling myopia. With that in mind, the team patented the technology in Australia, China and various European countries. More recently, through a licencing agreement, PolyU has partnered with the Vision Science and Technology Co. Ltd. (VST) to bring the award-winning DISC to the market to benefit millions of children.
Founded by a PolyU alumnus, this company is a local start-up supported by PolyU’s funding programmes. VST will manufacture the DISC lens using silicon hydrogel, one of the most permeable materials for contact lenses and distribute it through a network of authorised optometry clinics.
“I am glad that after years of hard work, the research on the DISC lens is now bearing fruit through successful commercialisation to benefit children in need”, Prof To said.