Evaluation of an Optical Defocus Treatment for Myopia Progression Among Schoolchildren During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Kai Yip Choi, Ka Man Chun, Wing Chun Tang, Chi Ho To, Carly S.Y. Lam, Ho Lung Henry Chan (Corresponding Author)

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Importance: Myopia progression has been found to be worsening during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is important to control the rapid myopia progression in this period. Objective: To analyze the association of COVID-19-related lockdown measures with myopia progression in schoolchildren and to compare the performance of defocus incorporated multiple segments (DIMS) lens with that of single vision lens (SVL) treatment in reducing myopia progression. Design, Setting, and Participants: This cohort study involved an exploratory, prespecified, comparison of 2 independent longitudinal studies performed at the same institute beginning in 2019. Data from Hong Kong schoolchildren (aged 7-13 years) were gathered and analyzed. Data analysis was performed from June to July 2021. Exposure: Schoolchildren in study 1 wore a DIMS lens for 18 months, and those in study 2 wore a SVL for 24 months. Main Outcomes and Measures: Cycloplegic spherical equivalent refraction and axial length were measured. Studies 1 and 2 started before the start of lockdown measures and continued throughout the lockdown. In both studies, periods of fewer and more COVID-19-related lockdown measures were identified. Because COVID-19 lockdown caused deviations from the visit schedule, myopia progression was normalized to 12-month change, which were compared between DIMS and SVL groups, also during the periods with less and more lockdown time. Results: There were 115 participants (58 girls [50.4%]; mean [SD] age, 10.3 [1.5] years) in the DIMS group; their mean (SD) baseline refraction was -4.02 (1.46) D. There were 56 participants (29 girls [51.8%]; mean [SD] age, 10.8 [1.5] years) in the SVL group; their mean (SD) baseline refraction was -2.99 (1.06) D. After controlling for the covariates, DIMS treatment was significantly associated with 34% less axial elongation (0.19 mm [95% CI, 0.16 to 0.22 mm] vs 0.30 mm [95% CI, 0.25 to 0.35 mm]; P <.001) and 46% less myopic progression after 12 months (-0.31 D [95% CI, -0.39 to -0.23 D] vs -0.57 D [95% CI, -0.69 to -0.45 D]; P =.001) compared with SVL treatment. In both the DIMS and SVL groups, more lockdown time was associated with significantly more spherical equivalent refraction (-0.54 D [95% CI, -0.64 to 0.44 D] vs -0.34 D [95% CI, -0.44 to -0.25 D]; P =.01) and axial length (0.29 mm [95% CI, 0.25 to 0.32 mm] vs 0.20 mm [95% CI, 0.16 to 0.24 mm]; P =.001) compared with less lockdown time. No significant interaction between treatment type and lockdown time was observed. Conclusions and Relevance: In this exploratory analysis, myopia progressed more rapidly in schoolchildren during the period when there were more COVID-19-related lockdown measures. However, optical treatment with DIMS was significantly associated with slower myopia progression compared with SVL treatment during the lockdown period.

Original languageEnglish
Article number43781
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalJAMA network open
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jan 2022


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