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Epidemiology: Pediatric myopia in Waterloo Region

We know that the prevalence of pediatric myopia is growing worldwide, but until recently did not have any Canadian figures for comparison. CCLR researchers Mike Yang, Doerte Luensmann and Debbie Jones recently completed a cross-sectional myopia prevalence study targeting school children ages six to thirteen, in the first study to measure prevalence in a non-clinical Canadian population. The work was conducted in collaboration with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind and was partly funded by Essilor.

The study took place at schools in the Waterloo Region, an area that comprises two mid-sized Canadian cities representing a large demographic cross-section of people. With roots in manufacturing and farming, the region has more recently seen the growth of a thriving high-tech industry with a median age of 38 years. As of 2012, 19.1% of the population was under the age of 14 (Statistics Canada, 2011 census).

Automated refraction, subjective refraction and visual acuity were tested at a first study visit at participating Schools, and those with a subjective of at least -0.50D in at least one eye were invited to attend a second visit that repeated these tests after cycloplegia, along with other biometric measures. Parents provided information about their child’s activities via a questionnaire.

166 children completed the study. Myopia prevalence was 17.5% among the overall group, 6% among ages 6-8, and 29% among ages 11-13. The mean subjective spherical equivalent refraction in myopic children was -1.10D at ages 6-8, and -2.44D at ages 11-13. In this study, 34.5% of the myopic children were uncorrected, which represented 6.0% of the entire group of children. Mean axial length increased by 1.03mm from ages 6-8 to ages 11-13 (p < 0.01). Examination showed that one additional hour of outdoor time per week lowered the odds of a child having myopia by 14%.

CCLR at the American Academy of Optometry in Anaheim

Our research team presented 14 papers or posters on a wide variety of topics at this year’s meeting of the American Academy of Optometry in Anaheim, California including the results of a pilot study determining the prevalence of myopia in a mid-sized urban region of Canada, the first to measure myopia prevalence in a non-clinical Canadian population. We also presented the results of clinical studies looking at:

Researchers from our biological sciences laboratory presented on their design of a novel in vitro eye model designed to simulate blinking and its ability to measure the release of wetting agents from daily disposable contact lenses as well as in vitro work examining the quantity of lipid deposition and its distribution . We also presented in vitro work on lysozyme deposition.

New technology: A more realistic model eye

grad studentsWhen it’s not practical to measure contact lens performance in vivo, what is the best way to simulate the ocular environment? While we can extrapolate results to predict in vivo lens performance, conventional in vitro methods are limited by conditions too far removed from the human eye.

While Chau-Minh Phan and Hendrik Walther were not the first to try to come up with a better in vitro system to test contact lens deposition and drug delivery, their tenacious approach in developing various iterations of the OcuFlow has produced a remarkable, patented device capable of simulating key aspects of the natural blink. In addition to incorporating a range of motion representative of the lid’s vertical “blink” movement, the device is also able to take into consideration the intermittent air exposure that occurs between blinks and the potential to tailor and mimic fluid volume and flow of the natural tear film. Additionally, adjustable amounts of test solutions (i.e. artificial tears, protein and lipid solutions) can be released separately via separate sources, flow-through solution can be collected for in vitro analysis, and blink rate and extent of mechanical rubbing can be programmed.

Learn more about the OcuFlow here.

Listening to Music From the Web

Waterloo study finds kids’ eyesight worsening earlier and largely uncorrected

Nearsightedness in children increases nearly fivefold from Grade 1 to Grade 8, with almost a third of the cases going undiagnosed and uncorrected, according to new research.

The team from the University of Waterloo’s Faculty of Science and the CNIB found that near-sightedness, or myopia, increases from 6 per cent to 28.9 per cent over the age range studied. Children from the Waterloo Region and Waterloo Catholic District School Boards participated in the landmark study and overall, 17.5 per cent of them are near-sighted.

Historically, myopia started at age 12 or 13, but now it is showing up more often in kids six or seven years old,” said Dr. Mike Yang, lead investigator and clinical scientist with the Centre for Contact Lens Research (CCLR) at Waterloo. “Our eyesight as a population is deteriorating and at a much younger age.

What surprised researchers the most was the number of cases of myopia going undetected and uncorrected. Left untreated, the condition worsens until the age of 21. Since it starts earlier in children today, it is possible that they may experience a much greater decline in their eyesight over a lifetime compared with previous generations.

Kids don’t know they can’t see the blackboard,” said Deborah Jones, co-lead investigator on the study and a clinical professor at the School of Optometry and Vision Science at Waterloo. “This kind of gradual loss in eyesight easily goes unnoticed without regular eye exams.

According to the report, a child has more than double the risk of developing myopia if a parent has it. However, the study found that spending one additional hour per week outdoors significantly lowers the odds of children becoming near-sighted.

The researchers plan to extend the pilot study to populations nationwide, looking at eye health within different ethnicities and environmental settings.

“We expect to find the same results in children across the country,” said Keith Gordon, Vice-President Research, CNIB. “It’s important for children between the ages of six and 19 to get an eye exam every year, as recommended by the Canadian Association of Optometrists. However even with annual check-ups, parents need to ensure that their children spend less time in front of screens and more time outside, even if it’s just one extra hour a week.”

Lyndon Jones, professor in Waterloo’s School of Optometry and Vision Science and director of the Centre for Contact Lens Research, was the principal investigator on the project. The project development team included Keith Gordon, PhD, vice-president research at the CNIB, as well as Desmond Fonn, professor emeritus at Waterloo, Jill Woods, clinical research manager, and Doerte Luensmann, PhD, clinical scientist at CCLR.

CNIB is a registered charity, passionately providing community-based support, knowledge and a national voice to ensure Canadians who are blind or partially sighted have the confidence, skills and opportunities to fully participate in life. For more information, visit

Lab Tour and Networking Session

Monday, October 24th,2016: 2-4pm – Lab Tour and Networking Session with the UW Centre for Contact Lens Research (CCLR) [Information and Registration]

There will be an introduction to the state-of-the-art laboratory facilities available at the centre and their capabilities of supporting:

  • Microbiology and Toxicology testing – bacterial adhesion and growth, biofilm testing, microbial identification, cytotoxicity testing, biocompatibility testing
  • Cell culture – cell identification/phenotype, immunohistochemistry,
  • Tissue analysis
  • Determination of inflammatory response in cells and biological fluids
  • Protein and lipid biochemistry and quantification – including colorimetric and fluorescent assays, UV-Vis, radiolabel methods, HPLC, MS
  • Biomaterial development, including drug delivery materials
  • Biomaterial characterization – microscopy techniques include SEM, TEM, AFM and confocal microscopy, spectroscopic techniques include XPS and FT-IR, measurement of contact angle, biomaterial wettability, water content, protein and lipid uptake, optical transmissibility