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Research Spotlight: Myopia

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The establishment of the Myopia Research Center in 1995 and the Correction of Myopia Evaluation Trial (COMET) established NECO as an international leader in basic and clinical eye research. COMET, the first NEI/NIH-sponsored clinical trial in optometry, was conducted at NECO, University of Alabama School of Optometry, University of Houston College of Optometry, Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University, and Stony Brook Department of Preventive Medicine. After the clinical trial phase ended, COMET became a longitudinal study looking at factors associated with the progression and stabilization of myopia over 14 years, which is ongoing. NECO is proud to have among its faculty members the chair of the study, Dr. Jane Gwiazda, and the PI of one of the four clinical centers, Dr. Erik Weissberg.

Myopia Research Center

The Myopia Research Center at NECO created a world-class research center dedicated to advancing the knowledge and treatment of myopia. Current myopia research includes the following topics:

Visual Regulation of Eye Growth

Dr. Debora Nickla currently studies diurnal rhythms of eye growth, namely how these rhythms are regulated and the ways in which various signal molecules influence regulation. Information gathered from this line of research could lead to the development of time-of-day related treatments for myopia. For more information on her research, select Dr. Debora Nickla.

Dr. Frances Rucker is interested in the signals that provide cues for focusing the eye. It is important to understand how the eye determines when it is in focus because of the association with eye growth and the development of myopia. Once the focusing mechanism is understood, the environmental triggers for excessive growth can be regulated and treatments developed for the control of eye growth and refractive errors. For more information on her research, select Dr. Frances Rucker.

Treatments for Myopia in Children

Two NECO faculty members have studied lens treatments for myopia control. Dr. Jane Gwiazda is principal investigator and chair, while Dr. Erik Weissberg is the principal investigator of one of the four clinical centers, of the Correction of Myopia Evaluation Trial (COMET), a federally-funded, multi-site, randomized clinical trial that evaluated whether progressive addition lenses were more effective than traditional single vision lenses in slowing the progression of juvenile-onset myopia. For more information on this research, select Dr. Jane Gwiazda and Dr. Erik Weissberg.

Risk Factors for the Progression of Myopia

A follow-up of the original COMET study, with the same cohort of children, is testing hypotheses related to risk factors for the progression and stabilization of myopia. Age and ethnic differences in progression have been identified, but no gender differences have been found. Recent analyses have identified seasonal variations in the progression of myopia, with progression twice as fast in the winter compared to the summer (Gwiazda et al, IOVS, 2014).  Read article.
For more information on this research, select Dr. Jane Gwiazda and Dr. Erik Weissberg.