Myopia Profile


Can we reconsider contact lenses?

Posted on May 24th 2021 by Connie Gan

Sponsored by


In this article:

Contact lenses offer numerous benefits for myopic children. What should you do if a parent or patient declines contact lenses?

Here is a case from RS that was posted in the Myopia Profile Facebook group. She was presented with a patient who had declined contact lens options and was looking how to modify a treatment regime to give better myopia control efficacy.

RS Help please. I have a 13 year old patient who has been in myopia control spectacles for 5 years. She definitely does not want ok or soft myopia control contact lenses. She's also on low dose atropine .02 % for the past 2 years. Her Rx is ~-6.00 R and -7.00 L and her rate of progression is -0.50 PA ( it was 1D pa) . She has mild accom. insufficiency and conv. excess. On " interrogation" I found out that she uses the iPhone and iPad while she's lying on her tummy on the floor so she is not really using the reading part of her spectacles. I have advised about correct posture. Should we bump up atropine to .03%? Cyclo as per expected. I dont have AL meter. Thanks.

Is the treatment working?

While axial length is the ideal metric to judge myopia progression and control, especially in the situation of atropine which can influence refraction,1 we can look at the refractive data provided to evaluate the suitability of the current treatment.

Consider the patient's rate of myopia progression

This patient is age 13, with a refraction of around R (OD) -6.00 and L (OS) -7.00. Her rate of myopia progression when managed wtih 0.02% atropine and corrected with progressive addition lens (PAL) spectacles is reported as -0.50D per year, compared to -1.00D per year 'before'.

DS …It sounds like your atropine strategy is effective of you have reduced the dioptric progression by 50%. With respect to dosage there are no guidelines to follow. I would think that if the benefit were linear, for example, you would need to double the concentration to achieve a meaningful additional benefit. I’m saying this only from a logical point of view as there is a dearth of comprehensive data comparing different atropine concentrations in my reading of the literaturePC At age 13 for a female, there is already a natural age-related slowing of her myopia progression vs the previous years, so there is the risk that whatever strategy we employ from this point is giving the illusion of success. So does that mean we do nothing or stay with the same strategy? We could, but at -7 my feeling is we should try to keep further progression to an absolute minimum, if possible. Without AXL and Ks we don’t really know if we are dealing with a 24.5mm eye or a 27mm one. But staying at -7 is still preferable to -8 or higher. Myopia management isn’t a perfect science unfortunately and no one has all the answers.

The clinical data provided does indicate a slowing of historical myopia progression. DS suggested it was due to the low-dose atropine whilst PC proposed that it could just be a natural reduction in progression attributed to the child's increasing age. Both could be true. The "illusion of inflated success" has been described by Brennan et al1 whereby an over-estimation of treatment effect can arise when using past 'measured' refractive progression as a basis to treat, or in this case, judge success.

Do we need to change treatment?

Data on annual progression in 7-12 year old children wearing single vision corrections, with myopia no worse than -6.00D, indicates a 12-year-old child of Asian ethnicity would progress by a mean of -0.50D in a year, which a non-Asian child would progress -0.35D in a year. There is a useful reference table for this in the Johnson & Johnson Vision Managing Myopia Guide (Table 5 on page 8).

Faster myopia progression (and risk of high myopia) is associated with younger age of onset. Considering this child is described to have been wearing glasses since age 8, predicted myopia progression from age 12 to 13 in a child of Chinese ethnicity (wearing single vision glasses) would be around -0.7D.2

This child's ethnicity is not stated, but her progression from age 12 to age 13 is explained as -0.50D. This indicates a limited treatment outcome in either case - whether extrapolating from the Managing Myopia Guide (-0.35 to -0.50D per year depending on ethnicity) or looking more specifically based on age of onset (-0.70D per year with Chinese ethnicity).

If the child or parent, or practitioner, wishes to switch to a more effective treatment, the first option could be increasing atropine concentration. The LAMP study indicated that 0.05% atropine slows myopia progression more effectively than 0.01% and 0.025% atropine and with a similar, minimal side-effect profile in children of Asian ethnicity.3

Consider if the treatment suits the patient

This case also highlights the importance of asking a patient questions to gauge how the treatment modality works in their day-to-day life and environment. The example here is that this patient’s reading posture was incompatible with proper use of the PAL spectacles. While this may not have influenced myopia control outcomes - given the low efficacy of progressive addition lenses1 - it could affect visual comfort if there were side effects of atropine which were not appropriately supported by the PALs.

Recent analysis has indicated that most treatment options have similar efficacy except for PALs, 0.01% atropine and "soft multifocal contact lenses that prioritize clear vision" which have lower efficacy.1 The Johnson & Johnson Vision Managing Myopia Guide notes that "knowing efficacy is similar across treatments, it is most critical that the treatment regime fits the patient's lifestyle, expectations, motivation and their abilities."

Understanding patient habits and goals for their vision is an essential part of comprehensive management. For a number of reasons, contact lenses could provide a more suitable option for this patient's myopia correction and management.

Can we reconsider contact lenses?

NR I'm afraid my view is that using MF spectacles completely misunderstands the drivers towards myopia. Who knows the effect of the atropine but denying CL's seems illogical to me.JM What is her objection against CTL? Is it a valid one? Or is she perhaps misinformed about CTL from sources outside your practice?PD ‪Probably irrational fear. I always tell my patients that there are over a billion (ballpark) people in the world who wear contacts, and nobody starts out wanting to put things in their eye, but they like it after they try it.‬

Compared to PAL spectacles, myopia controlling contact lenses and orthokeratology have higher efficacy in controlling myopia progression. Atropine 0.02% may have similar efficacy to these contact lens options,but for this highly myopic patient, there are are number of benefits in wearing contact lenses aside from myopia control. At age 13 it is still worth discussing and pursuing myopia control, especially given that the patient and their parents are already undertaking a myopia control treatment. The Johnson & Johnson Vision Managing Myopia Guide notes that myopic children aged 13+ have a possibility of continued myopia progression and that myopia control options should be presented.

In essence, this case speaks to the importance of good clinical communication in discussing a treatment option to which the parents or child have previously declined. Understanding the parents’ or patients’ fears and reservations about CLs can help us tailor the message we need to deliver to assuage their concerns. Let's start with the benefits of CL wear.

Why should this patient consider contact lenses?

For a high myope, we can highlight the advantages of using CLs to the parent and patient. These  include:

  • The functional benefits of CL wear for a high myope, including likely better visual acuity due to larger image size4
  • The confidence, participation ability and other psychological benefits for kids wearing CLs5
  • The opportunity to both correct and control myopia with myopia controlling or orthokeratology CL options as a monotherapy, instead of utilizing atropine 0.02%1

Why might parents and patients be concerned about contact lens wear?

Typical concerns can include safety and handling. Let's address each of these in turn.

  • The risk of CL associated microbial keratitis eye infection in a teenager is no higher than in an adult.
    • For orthokeratology or a reusable soft CL, this is around 1 per 1,000 patient wearing years6,7
    • For a daily disposable soft CL, this risk is around 1 per 5,000 patient wearing years6
  • Children only take 10-15 minutes more time to fit with CLs than teens, which is primarily taken up with learning to appy and remove lenses. Teenagers take around 30 minutes on average to learn to handle their CLs, which is similar to typical time taken for adults.8

Other clinical considerations

If the patient and parent are willing to reconsider contact lenses for the variety of myopia correction and control benefits they offer, then these could be used as a monotherapy and atropine 0.02% could be discontinued.

  • Consider rebound effects of 0.02% atropine. While these have not yet been shown, it should be presumed1 and hence tapering should be employed. For guidance on this, read When to prescribe atropine for myopia control.
  • Combination treatment - atropine with an optical intervention - currently only has an evidence base for orthokeratology (OK) combined with atropine.9 Only two, 2-year studies have been published which indicated improved efficacy of 0.025% with OK10 or 0.01% with OK in myopes of 1-3D only.11

Take home messages:

  1. Myopia control treatment for young teens and higher myopes is worth pursuing to reduce their long term risk of eye disease, but can present a challenge in determining the success of a treatment strategy
  2. With many treatment strategies providing similar efficacy, it is important to consider options for myopia correction and control which are most suitable to the patient's characteristics and capacity
  3. Just because a patient or parent has declined an intervention, in this case contact lens options, does not preclude discussing the reasons you would recommend it, and its benefits. Being provided more information, backed up with scientific evidence, could change their mind.
  4. Contact lenses are a great option for children, and especially for high myopes. Explaining the benefits, high safety profile and good handling ability that children and teens typically exhibit in CL wear can help allay parent and patient concerns.

Further reading on contact lenses and managing outcomes

Meet the Authors:

About Connie Gan

Connie is a clinical optometrist from Kedah, Malaysia, who provides comprehensive vision care for children and runs the myopia management service in her clinical practice.

Read Connie's work in many of the case studies published on Connie also manages our Myopia Profile and My Kids Vision Instagram and My Kids Vision Facebook platforms.

About Kimberley Ngu

Kimberley is a clinical optometrist from Perth, Australia, with experience in patient education programs, having practiced in both Australia and Singapore.

Read Kimberley's work in many of the case studies published on Kimberley also manages our Myopia Profile and My Kids Vision Instagram and My Kids Vision Facebook platforms.

This content is brought to you thanks to unrestricted educational grant from

Back to all articles

Enormous thanks to our visionary sponsors

Myopia Profile’s growth into a world leading platform has been made possible through the support of our visionary sponsors, who share our mission to improve children’s vision care worldwide. Click on their logos to learn about how these companies are innovating and developing resources with us to support you in managing your patients with myopia.