Scientists have developed glasses with ‘rings’ in the lenses to halt or slow the progress of myopia, or short-sightedness, where distant objects appear blurred.
The concentric rings are designed to focus light onto the retina, making images clearer, and by doing so, slow the rate at which the eyeball changes shape — a hallmark feature of myopia.
In a Chinese study, 167 children who wore the glasses for 12 hours daily saw an up to 70 per cent slowing in the progression of their myopia after two years.
Myopia is becoming more common. In the UK it affects almost 40 per cent of the population, compared to about 27 per cent in the 1970s.
It occurs when the eyeball grows too long, and becomes oval-shaped rather than round. This alters the way light hits the retina, the light-sensitive cells at the back of the eye which send the visual images we see, to the brain.
Scientists have developed glasses with ‘rings’ in the lenses to halt or slow the progress of myopia, or short-sightedness, where distant objects appear blurred. A stock image is used above
The lengthened eyeball makes light focus in front of the retina, meaning near objects are clear and focused, yet those more distant appear blurry.
Exactly why myopia occurs is unclear. Genes play a part, but environmental factors are implicated too, given the big rise in cases in recent years.
Little time spent outdoors is thought to figure. One theory is that bright light triggers the release of dopamine (a chemical messenger) from the retina, which may stop the eye lengthening.
The problem may be worsened by focusing on phone screens or reading for long periods.
Glasses help, yet stopping or slowing myopia progression has been the Holy Grail of eye research. Special contact lenses can be effective, but these aren’t suitable for all, particularly children.
The Stellest spectacles look like regular glasses but use HALT (highly aspherical lenslet target) technology, consisting of 11 rings of 1 mm inside the lenses.
According to the maker, ‘the power on each ring has been ingeniously determined to guarantee a volume of signal always in front of the retina and following its shape, to achieve consistent myopia slowdown’.
The problem may be worsened by focusing on phone screens or reading for long periods. Glasses help, yet stopping or slowing myopia progression has been the Holy Grail of eye research
In myopia, when the outer areas of the retina detect the out-of-focus light from distant objects, the eyeball responds by growing longer to sharpen the images.
But the more it grows to try and bring these images into focus, the greater and faster the progression of myopia.
The Stellest lenses stop this by changing the nature of light that reaches the periphery of the retina. The rings are oval-shaped to mirror the shape of the eyeball — this is thought to better focus the light rays on the retina.
In a study by Wenzhou Medical University, China, 167 children wore the glasses for at least 12 hours a day and found they slowed progression of myopia by an average 67 per cent after two years.
After the first year, the eye growth in 90 per cent of children wearing the specs was similar to or slower than children without myopia. Two-thirds did not need a prescription change, it was reported at the recent Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology conference.
Manufacturer, Essilor, plans to roll out Stellest specs in other Chinese hospitals, followed by launches in other countries.
Professor Bruce Evans, director of research at the Institute of Optometry, says: ‘The new designs of lenses for myopia control, of which Stellest is one, are game-changers. They make myopia control much easier, both for practitioners and for patients.
‘On average, children who wear the lenses will be less short-sighted, and in later life will have a lower risk of the eye diseases that can accompany myopia.’
New gene may lead to treatment for endometriosis
Scientists have identified a genetic link to the painful condition endometriosis, where womb-like tissue begins to grow elsewhere in the body. It can lead to fertility problems.
The condition is currently treated with hormone therapy and surgery.
Now scientists from the University of Oxford and the U.S. have discovered a gene called NPSR1 that’s connected to the condition. This could lead to the development of new drugs and treatments to tackle it.
They analysed DNA from 32 families where at least three women had the condition, then compared this with DNA from monkeys suffering from it.
Both groups shared variants of the NPSR1 gene, reports the journal Science Translational Medicine.
Dissolving patch to reverse baldness
Can a dissolving patch help cure a common cause of baldness?
Male and female pattern hair loss is often caused by a lack of blood vessels supplying nutrients to the hair follicles, and damage to the hair cells caused by molecules called free radicals.
Scientists at Zhejiang University, China, have devised a dissolving patch with hyaluronic acid (a natural substance that lubricates joints and helps form new blood vessels) and the chemical cerium (which mops up toxic molecules).
The patch administers the drugs via tiny needles, which also boost blood flow. Writing in the journal ACS Nano, the researchers said mice given the patches had faster hair regrowth compared with a standard topical treatment, minoxidil.
Why owning a garden is good for your health
Whether you’re digging, pruning or simply sitting there reading a book, spending time in your garden could help protect you from heart attacks and other causes of premature death.
That’s the conclusion of a study by Imperial College London, which tracked 233,000 Britons for over a decade to see who died early and what caused it.
Researchers found people who spent time in their own gardens were much less likely to die early from several non-injury causes — such as heart and respiratory diseases — than those who did not.
‘Our finding that private residential gardens substantially contributed to protective associations of total green space and premature mortality has implications for greening policies,’ stated a report in Environmental Health Perspectives, which recommended inequalities be addressed.
A gel containing folic acid is to be trialled as a mouth ulcer treatment. The Dow University of Health Sciences in Pakistan will ask 75 patients to rub on the gel for seven days. Previous studies have found a deficiency in B vitamins, including B9 (folic acid), can contribute to mouth ulcers. Folic acid is thought to help build up a protective layer in the mouth lining.
Isolate before op but it’s VITAL you keep exercising
Patients isolating prior to surgery to cut their Covid risk should stay active, as a study found isolating was linked to a 20 per cent rise in post-op lung problems.
Those who isolated for eight days or more before an op had the highest risk (31 per cent), reports the journal Anaesthesia.
Doctors said the finding, based on data from 96,000 patients at 1,600 hospitals worldwide, could be due to patients not exercising. Being fit aids recovery.
Aneel Bhangu, a University of Birmingham surgeon and the study lead author, said: ‘Isolation may mean patients reduce physical activity, have worse nutritional habits and suffer higher levels of anxiety and depression.’
Tweaks to dental hygiene that could make a difference. This week: Don’t bite your nails
Chewing your fingernails when stressed may be bad for dental health (as well as making your nails look a mess).
‘In biting our nails, we transfer bacteria from underneath the fingernail to our gums,’ says Oga Eze, a dentist based in Essex.
The rough edges of the nail can also tear the tissue in your gums. This may, in turn, encourage tooth decay and increase the risk of gum infection.
Dr Eze suggests trying to find ‘a substitute for chewing your nails, such as squeezing a stress ball’.
Keep a straight back when jogging to help prevent knee pain, suggest researchers from the University of Colorado Denver in the U.S.. They found that the angle of the upper torso to the legs can affect the risk of injury — the more someone leans forward, the shorter the stride, and the greater the impact on the joints.
The scientists say this may be due to the legs having to swing faster when the feet are off the ground, which might cause more damage.
What's in it?
We reveal the ingredients in everyday health products. This week: Vicks VapoRub
LEVOMENTHOL: This is a version of menthol, an alcohol naturally occurring in mint leaves, which has soothing and anti-irritant properties.
EUCALYPTUS OIL: Known as a ‘mucolytic’ agent, this contains a compound called cineole that helps make the mucus in your lungs less sticky and, therefore, easier to cough up. It also acts as a fragrance.
CAMPHOR: Found in the oil of rosemary leaves and now made artificially, this provides a cooling sensation and has been shown in trials to relieve congestion and inflammation.
TURPENTINE OIL: An organic compound distilled from trees, this is used as a solvent to create a smooth rub-on gel.