Vision for the future: QUT researchers focused on short-sightedness
Professor Michael Collins and a team of researchers from QUT’s Faculty of Health have developed contact lenses with a specific focus on slowing myopia’s development, also known as short-sightedness. Myopia affects about 15 per cent of Australians but based on current trends of increasing prevalence globally, myopia is predicted to affect 50% of the population by the year 2050.
‘Myopia is caused by the eye growing too long, resulting in a blurred image on the retina at the back of the eye,’ said Professor Collins.
‘People who are myopic have a greatly increased risk of developing other eye problems when they are older, such as retinal degenerations that can lead to partial blindness, so it is essential to slow down myopia progression when you are younger.’
Until recently, all contact lenses focused light to a single point behind the eye, meaning a person with myopia could easily have their vision corrected with lenses. Still, the lenses would not slow the condition's progression.
The new lenses use multifocal optics to slow eye growth in children and reduce later vision impairment risk. This research has the potential to help four million Australians who suffer from short-sightedness once the clinical trials are completed.
‘As myopia progresses, the eye stretches and this leads to degenerative conditions developing at the back of the eye as you get older,’ explained Professor Collins.
‘We are working to develop strategies to slow and stop myopia and, ultimately, to prevent it.’
There are two leading causes of myopia: genetics and environmental risk factors. Recent decades have seen dramatic increases in myopia’s prevalence in young populations in many developed nations across the globe. Research at QUT’s Centre for Vision and Eye Research led by Associate Professor Scott Read has found that changes in environmental factors affecting children, including reduced outdoor light exposure, are likely to contribute to this sudden increase in myopia prevalence.
QUT’s Centre for Vision and Eye Research strives to transform the future of vision through purpose-driven research, working to address eyesight problems like myopia which affect everyday Australians.
The Centre’s research focuses on technological advances in the treatment and management of vision problems, the diagnosis and assessment of eye and vision disorders, and the functional impacts of vision impairment.
Philanthropy enables research that improves the lives of young people affected by myopia. This world-class research would not be possible without the generosity of our donor community. If you would like to support QUT’s Centre for Vision and Eye Research, visit the QUT website.