How Do Myopia Control Soft Contact Lenses Work



Key Points

The advancement of myopia in children and adolescents is attributed to faster-thanintended eye growth.

Soft contact lenses for myopia control are crafted to decelerate this excessive eye growth based on how images are focused on distinct parts of the retina at the rear of the eye.

They function by redirecting a portion of incoming light rays to focus ahead of the retina, acting as a signal to halt eye growth.

Initially not designed for myopia control, center-distance multifocal soft lenses were the first type of soft contacts proven to slow myopia progression in children.
Specific designs of myopia control soft contact lenses have demonstrated effective myopia control for youngsters.

In this article

Soft multifocal contact lenses can be customized to manipulate peripheral light rays, causing them to converge in front of the retina. This function serves as a signal to impede the growth of the eye, leading to a reduction in the progression of myopia among children.

  • What are soft contact lenses?
  • What is myopia and why is it a concern?
  • How do myopia control soft contact lenses work?
  • Center distance multifocal contact lenses for myopia control
  • Myopia control soft contact lens designs
  • Which myopia control soft contact lens is best?
  • Are contact lenses for myopia control worth the risk?


What are soft contact lenses?

Soft contact lenses are another way to improve vision instead of wearing glasses. They're made from a flexible, clear material and fit closely on the front of your eye. There are two types: soft and rigid. Soft ones are thrown away daily, every two weeks, or monthly, while rigid ones can be used for 6-12 months or longer. Ortho-k lenses are an example of rigid ones; you wear them overnight and take them out in the morning.

Soft contact lenses present an alternative choice to eyeglasses for vision correction. Composed of a pliable, transparent, oxygen-permeable material, they are custom-fitted to closely conform to the anterior surface of the eye.

Contact lenses fall into two categories: soft and rigid. Soft lenses are designed for single-use, bi-weekly, or monthly replacement cycles, while rigid lenses can endure for 6-12 months or more. Orthokeratology (ortho-k), for instance, falls within the latter category, involving overnight wear and morning removal to achieve its effects.

Out of different soft contact lenses, daily disposables are the healthiest, with the lowest risk of causing eye infections. Reusable soft lenses, changed every two weeks or monthly, are similarly safe to ortho-k lenses. Kids (8-12 years old) and teens (13-17 years old) wearing soft lenses have a better quality of life in terms of vision. They can do more activities and feel happier with how they see and look compared to using glasses.

What is myopia and why is it a concern?

Myopia, also referred to as short-sightedness or near-sightedness, results in blurred vision when focusing on distant objects, necessitating the use of glasses or contact lenses to restore visual clarity.

Typically, myopia begins during childhood and gradually worsens until early adulthood, at which point it stabilizes. This condition persists throughout life and elevates the likelihood of potential vision-threatening complications in later years, prompting the World Health Organization to classify myopia as a global health concern.

Myopia arises from two underlying causes: the elongation of the eye's front-to-back length (known as axial myopia) or an overly strong focusing power of the eye (referred to as refractive myopia). Both scenarios lead to distant object images converging in front of the retina, necessitating proper focus on the retina for clear vision.

Of particular concern is childhood myopia, which can swiftly progress during growth spurts and result in elongation of eye structures, increasing the risk of ocular ailments in adulthood.8 Myopia control interventions for children aim to decelerate this eye growth, thus reducing myopia progression and diminishing the potential for future eye complications.


How do myopia control soft contact lenses work?

Myopia control soft contact lenses are specifically designed to slow down the rapid growth of the eye in childhood myopia by manipulating how images are focused on different parts of the retina. The retina is the light-sensitive layer lining the inner back of the eye, responsible for receiving visual information. To achieve clear vision, light must be precisely focused onto the retina.

Conventional vision correction methods, such as regular single vision glasses or contact lenses, tend to focus the central part of the image accurately onto the retina, while peripheral light rays end up focusing behind the retina. Research indicates that this situation sends a signal to the eye to "grow faster," which poses an issue for children with myopia, as their eyes are already growing too quickly.

Myopia control glasses and contacts work by changing how the edges of your sight focus. They make the side vision focus in front of the retina, while the middle stays clear. This change tells the eye to slow down its growth, which helps slow down myopia. Contact lenses have an advantage because they move with the eye and can do this better than glasses. They use smart designs to create the right focus on the sides of your vision.

Center distance multifocal contact lenses for myopia control

Initially, the first soft contact lenses demonstrating myopia control effects were not specifically intended for children. These contact lenses, known as center distance multifocals, were actually designed to address a common vision issue in adults aged 40-45 known as presbyopia, which involves difficulty focusing on nearby objects.

Center distance multifocal soft contact lenses are crafted to provide clear distance vision at the center of the lens and improved near vision at its outer periphery. This design aids adults with presbyopia by assisting with close-up focus.

Interestingly, this lens design inadvertently results in the redirection of peripheral light rays to focus in front of the retina. As discussed earlier, this redirection aligns with the desired outcome for slowing myopia progression. Research findings indeed support the effectiveness of this approach.


Myopia control soft contact lens designs

Following their earlier success, major contact lens makers set out to create new multifocal lenses specifically for myopia control. These designs improve children's vision while also doing a better job at controlling myopia compared to regular multifocal lenses.

These special lenses work by making side vision focus in front of the eye, which helps slow down myopia. Among them, the CooperVision MiSight 1 day, Johnson & Johnson Acuvue Abiliti 1-Day, Visioneering Technologies NaturalVue Multifocal 1 Day (which is also good for presbyopia), and Mark'ennovy Mylo monthly replacement lens are notable examples.

Each of these lenses has some research showing they help with myopia control, with MiSight 1 day having the most supportive evidence, including a study covering 6 years.

Which myopia control soft contact lens is best?

The right lens for your child or teenager depends on factors like their glasses prescription, eye health, preferences, and activities. Your eye doctor will talk to you about the best choice.

Remember, not all myopia control soft contact lenses are available everywhere, and rules vary by region. In the US, lenses need FDA approval for use. While some lenses can be prescribed 'off-label' without FDA approval, official approval assures safety and effectiveness. Only the CooperVision MiSight 1 day lens has FDA approval.

The Mark'ennovy Mylo lens and Visioneering Technologies NaturalVue Multifocal 1 Day have a European CE marking, good for Europe but not like FDA approval. Johnson & Johnson Acuvue Abiliti 1-Day is approved by Health Canada for slowing myopia in kids aged 7-12.

When picking a lens, it's important that it fits well, feels comfortable, and provides clear vision. These factors matter as much as how well the lens controls myopia. Sometimes, a lens with less myopia control evidence may be recommended if it fits better and gives better vision than a lens with stronger myopia control effects.


Are contact lenses for myopia control worth the risk?

Using contact lenses to slow myopia in kids and teens has many good points. It can lead to less frequent changes in eyeglass prescriptions, improve daily functions, and enhance quality of life. Plus, it reduces the risk of eye diseases and vision problems linked to strong myopia.

Though contact lenses have a slight chance of causing eye infections, studies compare this small risk to the long-term dangers of severe myopia. One study found that the risk of vision issues from myopia is greater than the risk of a child wearing any type of contact lens for 10 years.

Another study showed that someone with -3.00D of myopia might face around 4.4 years of vision problems from myopia-related eye diseases. On the other hand, only 1 in 263 contact lens wearers might have a year of vision loss from eye infections.

When looking at the good and bad sides of using contact lenses to control myopia in kids, the conclusion is clear: the benefits are much more significant than the possible risks.

  1. References
    Wolffsohn JS, Dumbleton K, Huntjens B, Kandel H, Koh S, Kunnen CME, Nagra M, Pult H, Sulley AL, Vianya-Estopa M, Walsh K, Wong S, Stapleton F. CLEAR - Evidence based contact lens practice. Cont Lens Anterior Eye. 2021 Apr;44(2):368-397.
  2. Stapleton F, Keay L, Edwards K, Naduvilath T, Dart JK, Brian G, Holden BA. The incidence of contact lens-related microbial keratitis in Australia. Ophthalmology. 2008 Oct;115(10):1655-62. 
  3. Bullimore MA, Sinnott LT, Jones-Jordan LA. The risk of microbial keratitis with overnight corneal reshaping lenses. Optom Vis Sci 2013;90:937-944.
  4. Bullimore MA, Mirsayafov DS, Khurai AR, Kononov LB, Asatrian SP, Shmakov AN, Richdale K, Gorev VV. Pediatric Microbial Keratitis With Overnight Orthokeratology in Russia. Eye Contact Lens. 2021 Jul 1;47(7):420-425.
  5. Walline JJ, Gaume A, Jones LA, Rah MJ, Manny RE, Berntsen DA, Chitkara M, Kim A, Quinn N. Benefits of contact lens wear for children and teens. Eye Contact Lens. 2007;33(6 Pt 1):317-321. 
  6. Hou W, Norton TT, Hyman L, Gwiazda J; COMET Group. Axial Elongation in Myopic Children and its Association With Myopia Progression in the Correction of Myopia Evaluation Trial. Eye Contact Lens. 2018 Jul;44(4):248-259. (link)
  7. The impact of myopia and high myopia. Report of the Joint World Health OrganizationBrien Holden Vision Institute Global Scientific Meeting on Myopia. 2015 (link)
  8. Tideman JW, Snabel MC, Tedja MS, van Rijn GA, Wong KT, Kuijpers RW, Vingerling JR, Hofman A, Buitendijk GH, Keunen JE, Boon CJ, Geerards AJ, Luyten GP, Verhoeven VJ, Klaver CC. Association of Axial Length With Risk of Uncorrectable Visual Impairment for Europeans With Myopia. JAMA Ophthalmol. 2016 Dec 1;134(12):1355-
    1363. (link)
  9. Gifford KL, Richdale K, Kang P, Aller TA, Lam CS, Liu YM, Michaud L, Mulder J, Orr JB, Rose KA, Saunders KJ, Seidel D, Tideman JWL, Sankaridurg P. IMI - Clinical Management Guidelines Report. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2019 Feb 28;60(3):M184-M203. (link)
  10. Smith EL 3rd. Optical treatment strategies to slow myopia progression: effects of the visual extent of the optical treatment zone. Exp Eye Res. 2013 Sep;114:77-88. (link)
  11. Walline JJ, Walker MK, Mutti DO, Jones-Jordan LA, Sinnott LT, Giannoni AG, Bickle KM, Schulle KL, Nixon A, Pierce GE, Berntsen DA; BLINK Study Group. Effect of High Add Power, Medium Add Power, or Single-Vision Contact Lenses on Myopia Progression in Children: The BLINK Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA. 2020 Aug 11;324(6):571-580. (link)
  12. Mutti DO, Sinnott LT, Berntsen DA, Jones-Jordan LA, Orr DJ, Walline JJ; BLINK Study Group. The Effect of Multifocal Soft Contact Lens Wear on Axial and Peripheral Eye Elongation in the BLINK Study. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2022 Sep 1;63(10):17. (link)
  13. Chamberlain P, Peixoto-de-Matos SC, Logan NS, Ngo C, Jones D, Young G. A 3-year Randomized Clinical Trial of MiSight Lenses for Myopia Control. Optom Vis Sci. 2019;96(8):556-567. (link)
  14. Cheng X, Xu J, Brennan NA. Randomized trial of soft contact lenses with novel ring focus for controlling myopia progression. Ophthalmol Sci 2022:Oct 18. (link)
  15. Cooper J, O'Connor B, Aller T, Dillehay SM, Weibel K, Benoit D. Reduction of Myopic Progression Using a Multifocal Soft Contact Lens: A Retrospective Cohort Study. Clin Ophthalmol. 2022 Jul 4;16:2145-2155. (link)
  16. Sankaridurg P, Bakaraju RC, Naduvilath T, Chen X, Weng R, Tilia D, Xu P, Li W, Conrad F, Smith EL 3rd, Ehrmann K. Myopia control with novel central and peripheral plus contact lenses and extended depth of focus contact lenses: 2 year results from a randomised clinical trial. Ophthalmic Physiol Opt. 2019 Jul;39(4):294-307. (link)
  17. Gifford KL. Childhood and Lifetime Risk Comparison of Myopia Control with Contact Lenses. Contact Lens Ant Eye 2020;43:26-32.
  18. Bullimore MA, Ritchey ER, Shah S, Leveziel N, Bourne RRA, Flitcroft DI. The Risks and Benefits of Myopia Control. Ophthalmology. 2021 Nov;128(11):1561-1579.

We look forward to hearing from you.



Hours of Operation

Our Regular Schedule


9:00 am-5:00 pm


9:00 am-5:00 pm


9:00 am-5:00 pm


9:00 am-5:00 pm


9:00 am-5:00 pm