Birmingham, UK (May 25, 2012) – Blocking the transmission of ultraviolet light (UV) through a contact lens may have an effect in maintaining the eye’s macular pigment density, according to new research presented today at the 2012 British Contact Lens Association Clinical Conference. Existing research suggests that a higher level of macular pigment appears to have a protective effect against age-related macular degeneration, a major cause of severe vision loss for people over the age of 55.
Forty pre-presbyopic patients (mean age = 30) who had worn contact lenses for around five years, participated in this novel introductory study which retrospectively examined the effects of wearing UV-blocking contact lenses on macular pigment density and accommodation (ability of the eyes to maintain a clear focus on an object as its distance varies).
Twenty subjects wore UV-blocking contact lenses while the other 20 subjects wore a contact lens material with minimal UV-blocking properties. Researchers evaluated participants’ ocular health, macular pigment density levels and measured their accommodative response
All subjects were matched for age, gender, race, body-mass-index, diet, lifestyle, UV exposure, refractive error and visual acuity. Macular pigment density levels were significantly greater (p<0.05) in eyes that had worn UV-blocking contact lenses (0.41±0.13) compared to eyes that had worn non UV-blocking contact lenses (0.33±0.15).
Ocular health (p>0.05), amplitude-of-accommodation (p=0.217), range of clear focus (p=0.783) and objective stimulus response curve (p=0.185) were not statistically different in eyes that had worn UV-blocking contact lenses compared to the others. Although not statistically significant, UV blocking contact lens wearers consistently showed a higher accommodative response than those wearing contacts with minimal UV-blocking.
“Researchers have speculated that chronic UV light exposure may contribute to aging processes in the eye,” says study lead-author Professor James Wolffsohn, Deputy Executive Dean for Life and Health Sciences at Aston University in Birmingham. “This preliminary data suggests that wearing UV-blocking contact lenses could play a contributory role in maintaining the eye’s macular pigment density which, in turn, may play a role in helping to delay the development of macular degeneration. Additional clinical studies are needed to further evaluate the effects seen in this preliminary research.”
UV-absorbing contact lenses are not substitutes for protective UV-absorbing eyewear such as UV-absorbing goggles or sunglasses because they do not completely cover the eye and surrounding area. “Eye care professionals need to continually reinforce the importance of wearing UV-blocking contact lenses in conjunction with high-quality UV blocking sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat for maximum protection,” says Professor Wolffsohn.
The study was sponsored by Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc.
Source: Wolffsohn, J., Eperjesi, F., Bartlett, H., Sheppard, A., Howells, O., Drew, T., Sulley, A., Osborn Lorenz, K., “Does Blocking Ultra-Violet Light with Contact Lenses Benefit Eye Health?” Presented May 25th, 2012, 2012 British Contact Lens Association Clinical Conference.
For further information, contact:
VISTAKON® Division Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc.
(908) 216-5200 (United States)
Edelman Public Relations
020 3047 2407