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Vision-Related Quality of Life Benefits Improve More for Children Who Wear Contact Lenses Versus Glasses


Multi-site, three-year study shows several significant differences

Anaheim, CA . – Compared to glasses, contact lens wear offers improved vision-related quality of life benefits for children and teenagers. Findings from a multi-site, three-year study suggest that children who require vision correction should be given the option of being fitted with contact lenses study investigators said today at The American Academy of Optometry meeting.

Using the Pediatric Refractive Error Profile (PREP), an instrument used to compare the vision-specific quality of life between children affected only with refractive error, researchers compared the two groups for a period of three years. Children who wore contacts saw greater improvement in satisfaction with their choice of vision correction, appearance, and participation in activities, with differences detected as early as one month.

“Studies have shown glasses to be associated with negative attributes in areas of self-perception and attractiveness, so it’s not surprising that children experience quality-of-life benefits beyond vision correction from contact lens wear,” says Marjorie Rah, O.D., Ph.D., F.A.A.O., New England College of Optometry, and lead author of this report from the Adolescent and Child Health Initiative to Encourage Vision Empowerment (ACHIEVE) Study.

“The growing body of research in this area demonstrates that contact lenses significantly improve how children feel about their physical appearance and participating in activities such as sports,” she adds. “This should give doctors and parents greater confidence in presenting children with the option of contact lens wear when vision correction is required, especially those children active in sports or those who don’t like how they look in glasses.”

About the Study

A total of 484 eight-to 11-year-old myopic children participated in the randomized, single-masked trial conducted from September 2003 to October 2007 at five clinical centers in the United States. Children were randomly assigned to wear spectacles (n= 237) or contact lenses (n = 247) for three years.

The Pediatric Refractive Error Profile is comprised of 26 statements scored from one (strongly disagree) to five (strongly agree). Scores are scaled from zero (poor quality of life) to 100 (good quality of life). The mean score of all questions is the Overall PREP score. There are ten subscales: Activities, Appearance, Far Vision, Near Vision, Handling, Peer Perception, Satisfaction, Academics, Symptoms, and Overall Vision.

The PREP survey was administered at baseline, one month, and every six months from baseline for three years. At baseline, all subjects completed the PREP for Glasses survey. At subsequent visits, children assigned to spectacles completed the PREP for Glasses and those assigned to contact lenses completed the PREP for Contact Lenses. The two surveys are identical except the word “contact lenses” replaces “glasses” in the PREP for Contact Lenses.

In comparing the three-year change in quality of life of contact lens wearers to the change of quality of life of spectacle wearers, the biggest mean difference in change of PREP scores was found in the subcategories: satisfaction (28.6, 95% CI = 22.3, 34.9), appearance (26.2, 95% CI = 20.8, 31.5), and activities (26.4, 95% CI = 20.9, 32.8), with greater improvement experienced by the contact lens group in all three groups. Similar changes were measured as early as one month.


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