Recently I read an article in Review of Myopia Management about active clinical trials of MyopiaX, a child-friendly digital therapeutic smartphone application designed to achieve a medical effect while children play games or view educational content. It will employ a patented light-based technology that activates a network of cells in the retina to increase retinal dopamine.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the retina. According to the authors of “Dopamine Signaling and Myopia Development: What Are the Key Challenges,” it facilitates many functions, including visual signaling and refractive development.
The authors reviewed the evidence for and against the role of bright light exposure and retinal dopamine signaling in myopia prevention. Retinal dopamine signaling is mediated by bright light exposure and is thought to be a stop signal for refractive eye growth. Both epidemiological and animal studies report an inverse relationship between outdoor activity and myopia development risks. Less outdoor time and exposure to bright blue-rich sunlight equate to higher levels of myopia development.
MyopiaX Digital Therapeutic is a promising new treatment that will provide a portable, user-friendly therapy for children that requires little parental supervision. The child will receive the digital therapeutic effect while playing a game during which their reaction speed, memory and object recognition will be tested. Since treatment adherence is linked to effective myopia control, daily playing of a fun game should facilitate high compliance. According to Hamed Bahmani, BEng, MSc, Ph.D., founder and managing director of Dopavision and research scientist with Max Planck Institutes Tübingen, “The MyopiaX app logs and displays session performance and completion, making it simple for parents and children to keep track of treatment adherence.”
While it may seem counterintuitive to use digital screen time to prevent myopia development, MyopiaX will use the child’s daily interaction with screens to incorporate a treatment app to increase retinal dopamine, preventing eye growth and myopia development.
The epidemiologic studies on myopia indicate the prevalence of myopia (≥ -0.50 D) will increase from 22.9 percent of the worldwide population in 2020 to 49.8 percent (43.4 to 55.7 percent; 95 percent confidence interval) by 2050. Of the nearly 5 billion people with myopia in 2050, approximately one billion will have high myopia. (collaborativeeye.com/articles/2022-mar/the-myopia-pandemic)
“Myopia, once thought of as nothing more than a simple refractive error that merely required a prescription change, is now viewed as a condition similar in nature to any other medical disease. Genetics account for less than 10 percent of any disease; lifestyle drives the rest, and proper education is paramount. As with any disease, the emphasis for myopia needs to be on primary prevention, early detection and timely intervention,” says Marina L. Gurvich, OD.
• Deborah Kotob
Pro to Pro Director