University of Houston (UH) and Ohio State University (OSU) Colleges of Optometry investigators were recently awarded with approximately $7.5 million in new research funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The funding was granted for their planned five-year investigation into bifocal contact lenses to help slow the progress of myopia in children.
The Bifocal Lenses In Nearsighted Kids (BLINK) Study is a multicenter randomized clinical trial that will follow nearly 300 children over the course of three years. Patients between 7 and 11 years old will be part of the clinical trial, and will wear soft contact lenses with no reading power, soft contact lenses with medium reading power, and soft contact lenses with high reading power.
After randomly assigning the contact lenses for each group, the investigators will measure the severity of nearsightedness in the children. The purpose of the study is to understand if light focused by the reading power of the soft bifocal contact lenses onto the front of the retina may result in slow eye growth and the progression of nearsightedness.
“This study will determine whether soft bifocal contact lenses can be used to slow how quickly a child’s nearsightedness increases,” said Dr. David A. Berntsen, an assistant professor in the UH College of Optometry and principal investigator for the UH clinical site of this collaborative project.
“If we find that soft bifocal contact lenses are effective, then the information we learn from this study will aid in optimizing future lens designs to slow eye growth and the progression of nearsightedness in children,” he added.
The patient recruitment for the clinical study is planned for the next few months, and the researchers hope to complete the enrollment in one year.
In addition to Dr. Berntsen, the team working on the BLINK study includes study chair and OSU associate professor Dr. Jeffrey J. Walline, OSU professor Dr. Donald O. Mutti, who will serve as the principal investigator at the OSU clinical site, and OSU research associate professor Lisa A. Jones-Jordan, the director of the data coordinating center.
The University of Houston College of Optometry, inaugurated in 1952, is one of the 22 optometry schools in the country and serves an average of 50,000 patients a year in the University Eye Institute and its external clinics in Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth regions.