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Clinical

Encouraging full time spectacle wear in kids

Posted on May 15th 2023 by Connie Gan

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With myopia controlling spectacles, parents may express concern for accidental breakage when playing sports. What are your recommendations?

Spectacle lenses with myopia control designs such as Essilor® Stellest® have been shown to effectively reduce myopia progression.1 Since full-time wear is to be encouraged to maximize efficacy,1 eye care practitioners can be faced with questions about using spectacles when playing sports, with the main concern being accidental breakage. This question was posed to the Myopia Profile community and here are the responses:

RS When prescribing myopia controlling lens, Essilor Stellest specs, do you also suggest that the child get a pair of single vision, tough 'sport' specs for rough activities eg footy, soccer ?IB No, when I prescribed it was for everyday, everywhere wear. If I had a more active child, I would advise contact lenses as a option as wellMCM I’d go for contact lens (CL) for formal sports. In saying that if the child is “playing during break” the lenses are polycarbonate - the frame is more likely to be the liabilitySH Also really depends on what sport, how often they’re playing, what level they play at, and how myopic they are. A young kid who’s only a -1.00 that only plays for an hour or two a week is fine to be unaided as they’re functional and their risk doesn’t change much for that short amount of time unaided. A 15yo who’s competing at a national level and is playing sport 10+ hrs a week? They need correction of some point, and CL’s are the option - myopia control being the heavy preference if that’s their visual environment for a significant part of their average week.MCM No. We recommend they wear their previous glasses for the first week or so while getting used to the myopia control glasses. As soon as they are comfortable they wear the myopia control glasses full time. If they are doing sport at a high level we would recommend contact lenses. We offer free damage insurance on children’s glasses.

Vision correction in sports

Spectacle frame, lens design and lens material choice have been found to be associated with ocular injury related to sports. In contact sports and some ball sports, regular spectacle frames and lenses do not offer proper eye protection and can increase ocular health risk in some cases, if they shatter.2 The requirement for eye protection depends very much on the activity, and recommendations can vary by country - it is important to be aware of any guidance provided by professional organizations in your country with respect to kids' eye protection. Read more in this All About Vision article.

If a child is running, cycling, playing non-contact sports or undertaking general physical activity, normal spectacles can be utilized to provide full vision correction. When it comes to spectacle lenses for sports protection, polycarbonate is found to be the most impact resistant lens material available for prescription eyewear and are capable of withstanding likely impacts in sports.3 Essilor® Stellest® spectacle lenses are made in polycarbonate material, which is suitable and safe for active kids. Examples of sports where children and teens (and adults) could wear spectacles can be seen in teenage Table Tennis stars and 2024 Olympic hopefuls from France, Felix and Alexis Lebrun; and Olympian Archery competitor Deepika Kumari from India, who won her first world championship at age 15.

The full-time wear message includes all activities

It is also extremely helpful to reiterate the message of full-time wear as being necessary for optimum myopia control outcomes. In the clinical trial, children who wore their spectacles with Essilor® Stellest® lenses for at least 12 hours per day, 7 days per week, showed the best myopia control results.Encouraging full-time wear includes discussion about a child's typical daily activities, and noting with the patient and their parent(s) that full-time wear also means for sport and home activities, not just in the classroom.

In this discussion, the community have suggested soft contact lenses as an option for sports. This is sensible advice for children playing sports where spectacles could prove a barrier to participation. Spectacles can be worn in sports where they are not a barrier to participation. A vital message here is that ensuring children have full vision correction is crucial to giving them the best chance for performance at sports. Good clinical communication including discussion of leisure activities and sports can reveal where additional protective or general use eyewear for sport could be useful for children and teens with myopia.

It is important to note that whatever mode of myopia correction is chosen - spectacles or contact lenses - that a myopia control option should be prescribed for wear as much as possible, to maximize the potential effect in slowing myopia progression. Spectacles should not be unnecessarily removed during break times at school or for other situations where it is not necessary, as this impacts the child's ability to function and can impact the myopia treatment outcome.

Finally, time spent outdoors should be encouraged for children with myopia, as a key strategy to reduce development of myopia and in some studies, also reduce rate of refractive progression and axial elongation. Read more in our summary on the IMI Report On Prevention Of Myopia And Its Progression.

Take home messages

  1. Risk of injuries and/or broken spectacles can be difficult to predict for various sports. In cases of contact sports, specific protective eyewear can be recommended, and if spectacles are a barrier to participation then contact lenses can be an option. However, active kids can be encouraged to wear their polycarbonate myopia control spectacle lenses for outdoor activities and sport, where suitable.
  2. Full-time wear of a myopia control treatment - whether spectacles or contact lenses - should be encouraged for children, to give the best potential to slow myopia progression. Spending time outdoors is also an important discussion point for kids with myopia and their parent(s).


Further reading


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 MyopiaProfile.com. 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 MyopiaProfile.com. 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

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