Category Archives: News

CORE Alerts Practitioners to Mask-Associated Dry Eye (MADE)

Widespread use of face masks has been determined essential to combat COVID-19’s spread, yet is giving rise to a new phenomenon: increased reports of dry, uncomfortable eyes. Experts from the Centre for Ocular Research & Education (CORE) are advising eye care professionals (ECPs) on how to recognize mask-associated dry eye (MADE) and methods to mitigate the condition.

Reports of MADE have circulated since early summer and a recent review1 concluded that eye dryness and irritation from mask wear may become a problem for a large percentage of the population.

“Face masks are crucial in the fight against COVID-19, and ECPs are well-positioned to provide patients with advice on appropriate wear in order to maximize eye comfort,” said Dr. Lyndon Jones, director of CORE. “Asking patients about their mask-wearing experiences and providing a few helpful tips takes little time and can make a substantial difference.”

MADE: What, Why and Who’s at Risk?

Masks significantly reduce the outward spread of air. However, exhaled air still needs to disperse; when a mask sits loosely against the face the likely route is upwards. This forces a stream of air over the surface of the eye, creating conditions that accelerate tear film evaporation, leading to dry spots on the ocular surface and discomfort.

In addition to worsening symptoms in patients with pre-existing dry eye disease, MADE can affect a wide-spectrum of others: the elderly who typically have a poorer quality tear film, contact lens wearers, and masked people working extended hours in air-conditioned settings and/or while using digital screens.

Beyond discomfort, MADE may encourage people to rub their eyes for temporary relief—raising the possibility of unwashed hands being brought to the face. In turn, this increases the likelihood of coronavirus infection through the mouth, nose, and to a lesser extent, the eye.

Guidance for Practitioners

CORE suggests that ECPs consider incorporating three MADE-related actions into their examination lane protocols:

  1. Consider the role of the face mask if there are worsening symptoms and signs in patients with confirmed dry eye disease, or if patients report dry, uncomfortable eyes or variable vision for the first time.
  2. Routinely ask all patients how their eyes feel while wearing a mask, since many may not think to volunteer their experiences or associate their symptoms with mask use.
  3. Provide advice on alleviating the symptoms, including using a new CORE-developed infographic to help show how a few simple steps can likely provide relief and minimize reoccurrence.

Tips for Patients

As illustrated in its new MADE infographic (available for download from COVIDEyeFacts.org), CORE recommends that mask wearers experiencing dry eye symptoms try straight-forward solutions:

  1. Ensure that a mask is worn appropriately, particularly with spectacles or sunglasses. A carefully taped top edge that does not interfere with blinking may help.
  2. Apply lubricating drops, asking their ECP for recommendations.
  3. Limit time in air-conditioned environments and take regular breaks from digital devices.

CORE experts are also been quick to state that people should first check with their eye care practitioner for advice and to rule out other cases—a good approach with any new eye-related concern.

Don’t Ditch the Mask

Dr. Jones is adamant that bringing more attention to MADE should not be used to support anti-mask wearing sentiments.

“Responsibly wearing a mask, even when having to contend with eye dryness, is a critical part of overcoming the global pandemic. The good news is that we understand MADE and can address it—an opportunity for ECPs to further communicate their knowledge and ongoing value to patients at a time when sound, scientific guidance is needed more than ever,” he noted.

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About the Centre for Ocular Research & Education (CORE)

The Centre for Ocular Research & Education (CORE) – formerly known as the Centre for Contact Lens Research – was established in 1988 at the University of Waterloo’s School of Optometry & Vision Science. Over the next three decades, the organization evolved from a three-person operation into a thriving hub of basic and applied research, collaborating with sponsors, agencies and academia on advanced biosciences, clinical research and education. Its uncompromising independence and results of the highest quality have been at the heart of many of the most prominent advances in eye health. Today, its approximately 50-person team serves a range of ophthalmic sectors, including medical devices, ocular pharmaceuticals, digital technology and others, with a focus on the anterior segment. For more information, please visit core.uwaterloo.ca.

MEDIA CONTACTS:
Aimee J. Lewis or Mike McDougall, APR, Fellow PRSA
McDougall Communications for CORE
aimee@mcdougallpr.com +1.585.414.9838  |  mike@mcdougallpr.com +1.585.434.2150

  1. Moshirfar, M., West, W.B. & Marx, D.P. Face Mask-Associated Ocular Irritation and Dryness. Ophthalmol Ther 9, 397–400 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40123-020-00282-6

New Research Reassures & Advises Contact Lens Wearers During Coronavirus / COVID-19 Pandemic; Offers Clear Facts and Hygiene Advice

Peer-Reviewed Paper by Prominent Scientists Reinforces Need for Hand Washing,
Warns that Wearing Glasses / Spectacles Does Not Reduce Risk of Infection

WATERLOO, Ontario, April 13, 2020—Moving swiftly to address and correct harmful myths and misinformation, a new peer-reviewed paper from five of the world’s most prominent ocular scientists reassures contact lens wearers during the global COVID-19 / coronavirus pandemic. Published in Contact Lens & Anterior Eye, “The COVID-19 Pandemic: Important Considerations for Contact Lens Practitioners” offers five important facts for anyone who relies on contact lenses or eyeglasses / spectacles:

    1. You Can Keep Wearing Contact Lenses. There is currently no scientific evidence that contact lens wearers have an increased risk of contracting COVID-19 compared with glasses / spectacles wearers. Consult your eye care practitioner with questions.
    2. Good Hygiene Habits are Critical. Thorough handwashing and drying are essential, as well as properly wearing and caring for contact lenses, ensuring good contact lens case hygiene, and regularly cleaning glasses / spectacles with soap and water. These habits can help you stay healthy and out of your doctor’s office or hospital.
    3. Regular Eyeglasses / Spectacles Do Not Provide Protection. No scientific evidence supports rumors that everyday eyeglasses / spectacles offer protection against COVID-19.
    4. Keep Unwashed Hands Away from Your Face. Whether you wear contact lenses, glasses / spectacles or require no vision correction at all, avoid touching your nose, mouth and eyes with unwashed hands, consistent with World Health Organization (WHO) and S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations.
    5. If You Are Sick, Temporarily Stop Wearing Contact Lenses. Contact lens wearers who are ill should temporarily revert to wearing eyeglasses / spectacles. You can resume use with fresh, new contact lenses and lens cases once you return to full health and have spoken with your eye care practitioner.

On April 8, the CDC issued updated guidance on contact lens wear during the COVID-19 pandemic, further supporting key findings from the Contact Lens & Anterior Eye paper. The CDC also points out that personal eyeglasses and contact lenses do not qualify as personal protective equipment (PPE).

“Millions of people are asking how COVID-19 affects eye care, especially since approximately two out of every three adults worldwide wear contact lenses, spectacles or eyeglasses. Unfortunately, misinformation has become widespread in recent days. Our goal is to make sure that science-backed truths are understood and shared, replacing fear with fact,” said Dr. Lyndon Jones, director of the Centre for Ocular Research & Education (CORE) at the University of Waterloo (Ontario, Canada) and the paper’s lead author. “Our findings indicate that contact lenses remain a perfectly acceptable form of vision correction during the coronavirus pandemic, as long as people practice good hand hygiene and follow appropriate wear-and-care directions.”

The complete paper incorporates findings from more than 100 referenced sources. It delves into multiple aspects of ocular health amidst the pandemic, including practical advice for eye care professionals. The paper and other resources for good wear and care can be downloaded from COVIDEyeFacts.org.

This new research-based review complements and significantly expands on CORE advisories regarding handwashing and safe contact lens wear issued in mid-March 2020.

Dr. Jones is a preeminent authority on eye care, having authored more than 400 refereed and professional papers and delivered more than 1,000 lectures worldwide in over 40 countries. In 2019, he was named by Expertscape as the most published expert in the field of contact lens research.

Joining him to author the COVID-19 paper were four globally respected researchers, educators and clinicians: Dr. Karen Walsh, professional education team leader and clinical scientist at CORE, Dr. Mark Willcox, director of research at the School of Optometry and Vision Science at UNSW (Sydney), Dr. Philip Morgan, director of Eurolens Research at the University of Manchester (United Kingdom), and Dr. Jason Nichols, associate vice president for research and Professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry (United States) and editor-in-chief of Contact Lens Spectrum.

About CORE

The Centre for Ocular Research & Education (CORE) was established in 1988 at the University of Waterloo’s School of Optometry & Vision Science. Over the next three decades, the organization evolved from a three-person operation into a thriving hub of basic and applied research, collaborating with sponsors, agencies and academia on advanced biosciences, clinical research and education. Its uncompromising independence and results of the highest quality have been at the heart of many of the most prominent advances in eye health. Today, its 50-person team serves a range of ophthalmic sectors, including medical devices, ocular pharmaceuticals, digital technology and others, with a focus on the anterior segment. For more information, please visit core.uwaterloo.ca.

 

MEDIA CONTACTS

 

Aimee J. Lewis
McDougall Communications for CORE
aimee@mcdougallpr.com +1-585-414-9838 (mobile)

Mike McDougall, APR, Fellow PRSA
McDougall Communications for CORE
mike@mcdougallpr.com or +1-585-545-1815 (mobile)

CORE Advises Contact Lens Wearers on Safe Use Amidst COVID-19 Concerns, Reinforces Proper Hand Hygiene

As bottles of soap are flying off the shelves and hand sanitizer is in short supply since the global spread of Novel Coronavirus COVID-19, people are paying more attention to hand washing practices. While there is no suggestion of an association between COVID-19 and safe contact lens wear, for the millions of lens wearers worldwide, the increased focus on hand washing is a welcome message.

A recent literature review from Professor Emeritus Desmond Fonn and the Centre for Ocular Research & Education (CORE) reports that proper hand hygiene is especially important for people who use contact lenses. The peer-reviewed study, published in Contact Lens and Anterior Eye, draws attention to how hand washing habits could affect the development of contact lens related microbial keratitis, which can be severe and sight-threatening, and corneal inflammatory events.

“Everyone is suddenly Googling handwashing techniques with the spread of COVID-19,” said Lyndon Jones, PhD, DSc, FCOptom, FAAO, FBCLA, the paper’s co-author and director of CORE. “Clearly this is sensible advice to help reduce the risk of transferring the virus, however, outside of the current crisis, focus on good hand washing techniques should be mandatory for contact lens wearers too. With the amount of information available on this topic right now, it is timely to remind lens wearers of just how much the simple act of thorough hand washing can reduce their risk of lens-related complications occurring.”

The paper notes that in line with its ability to reduce the spread of disease, careful and thorough hand washing with soap and water followed by hand drying with unused paper towels should greatly reduce the transfer of microbial contamination from hands to the contact lens or eye. Clean hands plus use of daily disposables results in the lowest risk of contact lens-related complications. For wearers of reusable lenses there are additional guidelines on lens and case cleaning which can be downloaded for patient use from CORE’s Contact Lens Update educational resource.

Seeing is Believing

In 2018, CORE published a series of eye-popping photos that demonstrate the rapid growth of bacteria associated with mishandling contact lenses.  CORE researchers exposed new, clean contact lenses to both clean and unwashed hands. Unwashed hands were pressed into agar (Figure 2a), and also used to handle a new contact lens (Figure 2b). Scientists then repeated the procedure after following recommended handwashing practices, touching both the agar directly, along with applying and removing a contact lens (Figures 2c and 2d). The results clearly demonstrate the impact handling has on contact lenses. Samples that had been touched with unwashed hands showed significantly higher numbers of visible bacteria. By comparison, the contact lens touched with clean hands had only a minimal bacterial load.

“Contact lenses are a safe, highly effective form of vision correction used by millions of people worldwide, but ignoring good contact lens care can have a devastating effect on eye health and vision,” says CORE senior research associate Miriam Heynen, MSc, who conducted the experiment with laboratory research assistant Vivian Chan, BSc. “Taking care of your contact lenses with clean, dry hands is essential, a point that is clearly illustrated in the images shared here.”

Photos from the handling study are available for use by eye care professionals and contact lens wearers alike at https://core.uwaterloo.ca/news/seeing-is-believing-eye-popping-photos-show-why-good-contact-lens-hygiene-is-essential/

Dr. Jones concluded by saying “We understand the relevance of good hand washing practices for everyone in the current climate of COVID-19. Beyond the current heightened focus, it is also prudent to remind contact lens wearers of their ongoing need to conduct good hand hygiene prior to touching their lenses and eyes.”

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About the Centre for Ocular Research & Education (CORE)
The Centre for Ocular Research & Education (CORE) was established in 1988 at the University of Waterloo’s School of Optometry & Vision Science. Over the next three decades, the organization evolved from a three-person operation into a thriving hub of basic and applied research, collaborating with sponsors, agencies and academia on advanced biosciences, clinical research and education. Its uncompromising independence and results of the highest quality have been at the heart of many of the most prominent advances in eye health. Today, its approximately 50-person team serves a range of ophthalmic sectors, including medical devices, ocular pharmaceuticals, digital technology and others, with a focus on the anterior segment. For more information, please visit core.uwaterloo.ca.

MEDIA CONTACT
Aimee J. Lewis
McDougall Communications for CORE
aimee@mcdougallpr.com or +1.585.414.9838

Researchers recommend considering preserved artificial tears for mild dry eyes

Evidence shows that there is a wide choice of preserved artificial tears which can be recommended within a larger treatment plan for mild to moderate dry eye disease.

According to researchers at the University of Waterloo, while preservative-free drops are best for severe dry eyes, they are not the only option to consider in the management of more mild stages of the disease.

“The preservative benzalkonium chloride (BAK) is known to irritate the surface of the eye and should be avoided in all dry eye patients, however, there is good evidence that alternatively preserved drops can be safely used in mild to moderate cases.” said Karen Walsh, a Clinical Scientist at Waterloo’s School of Optometry and Vision Science and the Centre for Ocular Research & Education. “Preservative-free drops can be more expensive, and many are packaged in single-dose containers that can be difficult for elderly patients to use.

“This study provides an important recommendation to eye care practitioners: they have more options for treating mild to moderate dry eye than they may think.”

As part of their research, Walsh and co-author Lyndon Jones, reviewed a range of studies including clinical trials and laboratory testing which showed that artificial tears containing alternative preservatives are significantly safer to the surface of the eye than BAK-preserved drops.

“It is important for patients with symptoms of dry eye to seek medical advice when choosing which drops are best. An examination with their eye care professional can diagnose the type and severity of dry eye, which will result in more effective treatment and ongoing management of the condition.” said Walsh.

This literature review, The use of preservatives in dry eye drops, authored by Walsh and Jones was recently published in the journal Clinical Ophthalmology.

Review Study Draws Attention to Inadequate Hand Hygiene Among Contact Lens Wearers, Suggests Strategies to Avoid Infection

Improper hand hygiene can have serious consequences for contact lens wearers, according to a recent paper from the Centre for Ocular Research & Education (CORE). The report, published in Contact Lens and Anterior Eye, draws attention to poor hygiene associated with contact lens wear, and in particular how hand washing habits could affect the development of contact lens related microbial keratitis and corneal inflammatory events.

“While proof that hand washing reduces infection dates back to the mid-1800s, we’re still facing significant issues in having consumers change their hygiene behaviors,” said Lyndon Jones, PhD, DSc, FCOptom, FAAO, FBCLA, the paper’s co-author and director of CORE. “In compiling this review of public health literature, our hope is to make the facts and possible mitigation strategies more accessible to eye care professionals. They’re on the front lines of helping contact lens wearers understand that eye health is literally in their own hands.”

The paper notes that numerous techniques exist to help prevent microbial keratitis or corneal inflammatory events among contact lens patients, including careful and thorough hand washing with soap and water followed by hand drying with unused paper towels. While the eye care industry has made significant investments in patient education, “literature on the effects of education of proper hand washing is at best scant.”

Alternatively, the report identifies advancements in contact lens offerings as providing new hope.  These include more frequent fitting of daily disposable contact lenses, citing the reduced contamination due to removal and discarding after each wearing period. Additional innovations include a new lens package design that minimizes interaction between the finger and the lens surface, and a novel disinfecting component included in the lens blister pack solution.

The paper was co-authored by Desmond Fonn, MOptom, FAAO, distinguished professor emeritus at the University of Waterloo, School of Optometry & Vision Science.

CORE recently published a series of eye-popping photos that demonstrate the rapid growth of bacteria associated with mishandling contact lenses. They are available for use by eye care professionals at https://core.uwaterloo.ca/news/seeing-is-believing-eye-popping-photos-show-why-good-contact-lens-hygiene-is-essential/

# # #

About the Centre for Ocular Research & Education (CORE)

The Centre for Ocular Research & Education (CORE) was established in 1988 at the University of Waterloo’s School of Optometry & Vision Science. Over the next three decades, the organization evolved from a three-person operation into a thriving hub of basic and applied research, collaborating with sponsors, agencies and academia on advanced biosciences, clinical research and education. Its uncompromising independence and results of the highest quality have been at the heart of many of the most prominent advances in eye health. Today, its approximately 50-person team serves a range of ophthalmic sectors, including medical devices, ocular pharmaceuticals, digital technology and others, with a focus on the anterior segment. For more information, please visit core.uwaterloo.ca.

MEDIA CONTACT

Aimee J. Lewis

McDougall Communications for CORE

aimee@mcdougallpr.com or +1.585.414.9838

Centre for Ocular Research & Education partners with SightGlass Vision to bring eyeglasses to local children in need

The University of Waterloo’s Centre for Ocular Research & Education (CORE) is pleased to announce it will receive donated eyeglasses from SightGlass Vision, Inc. to help local children in need. The eyeglasses will be distributed through the School of Optometry & Vision Science’s (WOVS) Clinic.

This effort is in support of the first annual Myopia Awareness Week (@MyopiaMovement), aimed at educating caregivers and changing the way optometrists understand and treat myopia. Myopia Awareness Week takes place May 13-19, 2019.

“We are pleased to accept this generous donation from SightGlass Vision to help children in our community who are struggling with sight issues. We know that some families are unable to afford corrective measures such as eyeglasses,” said CORE’s director Dr. Lyndon Jones. “This effort will make a huge difference in the lives of these children who are most in need, as well as their family members, and we are grateful to the SightGlass Vision team for their support and dedication to helping address myopia in children.”

Findings in Myopia Prevalence in Canadian School Children: a Pilot Study, conducted by CORE indicated, that while the rate of myopia was 6% in children aged 6-8, it soars to 28.9% in children aged 11-13.1 Often increasing rapidly during childhood, myopia progresses into the teen years and early adulthood, leaving many with significantly impaired uncorrected vision. Earlier onset and rapid progression results in the need for stronger prescription glasses and increases the risk of potentially blinding conditions such as glaucoma, retinal detachment, and macular degeneration in adulthood. SightGlass Vision is developing new technology to slow myopia progression that is currently being investigated in clinical trials at research sites around the world, including CORE.

Myopia has seen a dramatic increase in prevalence over the past several decades. Myopia is now the leading cause of irreversible blindness in parts of Asia and it is estimated that almost half of the entire world’s population, or five billion people, will be nearsighted by 2050.2 This increase is thought to relate to lifestyle changes, including less time outdoors and more eye-straining or near-work-related activities such as reading and screen time.

“The increasing prevalence of myopia around the world is of great concern to us and it has been well established that myopia often progresses rapidly during childhood,” said Thomas W. Chalberg, Ph.D., co-founder and chief executive officer of SightGlass Vision. “Our donation is grounded in the belief that no child should struggle with sight issues and it is our privilege to make this contribution to CORE and the School of Optometry & Vision Science to help children in Waterloo Region see better.”

The University of Waterloo is one of 15 sites across North America that will select, order, and dispense the eyeglasses to children in need. The WOVS Optometry Clinic will receive up to 40 pairs of standard ophthalmic frames and impact-resistant spectacle lenses – the standard of care for children who have myopia, hyperopia, and/or astigmatism.

About the Centre for Ocular Research & Education

The Centre for Ocular Research & Education (CORE) was established in 1988 at the University of Waterloo’s School of Optometry & Vision Science. Over the next three decades, the organization evolved from a three-person operation into a thriving hub of basic and applied research, collaborating with sponsors, agencies and academia on advanced biosciences, clinical research and education. Its uncompromising independence and results of the highest quality have been at the heart of many of the most prominent advances in eye health. Today, its approximately 50-person team serves a range of ophthalmic sectors, including medical devices, ocular pharmaceuticals, digital technology and others, with a focus on the anterior segment. For more information, please visit core.uwaterloo.ca.

About the University of Waterloo’s School of Optometry & Vision Science
The University of Waterloo’s School of Optometry & Vision Science (WOVS) provides the only English optometric training in Canada. The School delivers an accredited, four year degree program leading to a professional Doctor of Optometry (OD). An extensive clinic program provides practical experience for students and health services for the public. The School of Optometry and Vision Science also has an impressive program supporting research in Vision Science and Optometry. For more information, please visit uwaterloo.ca/optometry.

About SightGlass Vision, Inc.
SightGlass Vision, Inc. is a clinical-stage medtech startup company focused on ending nearsightedness (myopia). Headquartered in Palo Alto, CA, SightGlass is developing innovative spectacle lenses to reduce the progression of myopia in children. Based on groundbreaking research from the University of Washington, SightGlass was founded in 2016 by Professors Jay and Maureen Neitz, who are world-renowned vision researchers, and Dr. Thomas Chalberg, a serial entrepreneur in the biotechnology and medical device sectors. For more information, please visit www.sightglassvision.com.

  1. Yang M, Luensmann D, Fonn D, et al. Myopia prevalence in Canadian school children: a pilot study. Eye (Lond). 2018;32(6):1042-1047.
  2. Holden BA, Fricke TR, Wilson DA, et al. Global Prevalence of Myopia and High Myopia and Temporal Trends from 2000 through 2050. Ophthalmology. 2016;123(5):1036-1042.

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Aimee J. Lewis or Mike McDougall, APR, Fellow PRSA, McDougall Communications for CORE

aimee@mcdougallpr.com +1.585.414.9838  |  mike@mcdougallpr.com +1.585.545.1815

Seeing is Believing: Eye-Popping Photos Show Why Good Contact Lens Hygiene is Essential

Caught short without your contact lens case or care solutions? Lens unexpectedly falls out? What would you do? NBA star Ron Baker, faced with just this dilemma earlier this year chose to pop his lens in his mouth to wet it and then place it back on his eye. This was seen by countless people around the world as the video clip spread online, eliciting cringes from the eye health community and shrugs from wearers who have done the same.

During the holidays, when routines are disrupted and time is at a premium, contact lens wearers may also be tempted to skip regular hygiene practices. But is it wise? Scientists from the Centre for Ocular Research & Education (CORE) at the University of Waterloo conducted an eye-popping experiment to help consumers picture the risks.

To demonstrate the rapid growth of bacteria associated with mishandling contact lenses, CORE researchers exposed new, clean contact lenses to human saliva and then placed them into petri plates for monitoring. The action of putting a contact lens in the mouth resulted in significant growth of microorganisms after only two days of incubation (Figure 1).

They then examined the effect of handling contact lenses with both clean and unwashed hands. Unwashed hands were pressed into agar (Figure 2a), and also used to handle a new contact lens (Figure 2b). Scientists then repeated the procedure after following recommended handwashing practices, touching both the agar directly, along with applying and removing a contact lens (Figures 2c and 2d). The results clearly demonstrate the impact handling has on contact lenses. Samples that had been placed in the mouth or touched with unwashed hands showed significantly higher numbers of visible bacteria. By comparison, the contact lens touched with clean hands had only a minimal bacterial load.

“Contact lenses are a safe, highly effective form of vision correction used by millions of people, but ignoring good contact lens care can have a devastating effect on eye health and vision,” says CORE senior research associate Miriam Heynen, MSc, who conducted the experiment with laboratory research assistant Vivian Chan, Bsc., after hearing a news report on poor contact lens care habits.

She continued, “Bacteria are present on surfaces all around us and this simple experiment is a graphic demonstration of how they reproduce over just a short amount of time. Taking care of your contact lenses is a must, no matter how pressed for time you are. Handle with clean, dry hands, use a case and care solution as recommended by an eye care practitioner, and always keep spare contact lenses and spectacles with you. Proper care is simple, essential for good health, and after seeing these photos, a no-brainer for anyone who appreciates their eyes.”

Contact lens wearers can more easily resolve to practice better hygiene during the holiday season and the New Year, thanks to a printable, easy-to-read tip sheet available from CORE which covers good hand hygiene along with other reminders on safe contact lens wear.

# # #

About the Centre for Ocular Research & Education (CORE)

The Centre for Ocular Research & Education (CORE) – formerly known as the Centre for Contact Lens Research – was established in 1988 at the University of Waterloo’s School of Optometry & Vision Science. Over the next three decades, the organization evolved from a three-person operation into a thriving hub of basic and applied research, collaborating with sponsors, agencies and academia on advanced biosciences, clinical research and education. Its uncompromising independence and results of the highest quality have been at the heart of many of the most prominent advances in eye health. Today, its approximately 50-person team serves a range of ophthalmic sectors, including medical devices, ocular pharmaceuticals, digital technology and others, with a focus on the anterior segment. For more information, please visit core.uwaterloo.ca.

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Aimee J. Lewis or Mike McDougall, APR, Fellow PRSA, McDougall Communications for CORE

aimee@mcdougallpr.com +1.585.414.9838  |  mike@mcdougallpr.com +1.585.545.1815

Learn more about the Centre for Ocular Research & Education

The Centre for Ocular Research & Education (CORE) was established in 1988 at the University of Waterloo’s School of Optometry and Vision Science.

It was designed to meet a need for objective, academically-grounded research to support a growing contact lens industry. Over the next two decades, founding director Desmond Fonn developed the organization from a three-person operation into a thriving hub of basic and applied research.

Our roots are in contact lens research.

We played a significant role in the early development and testing of silicone hydrogel lenses and the role of oxygen in corneal health, and continue to play a significant role in the development of new contact lens materials, designs and care systems.

Our research vision has broadened significantly over twenty-five years.

Lyndon Jones was appointed director in 2011. His vision has continued to inspire our evolution as an integrated site for ocular research and education, combining clinical, laboratory and socio-behavioural methodologies and packaging results in a way that facilitates evidence-based clinical practice.

Waterloo study finds kids’ eyesight worsening earlier and largely uncorrected

Nearsightedness in children increases nearly fivefold from Grade 1 to Grade 8, with almost a third of the cases going undiagnosed and uncorrected, according to new research.

The team from the University of Waterloo’s Faculty of Science and the CNIB found that near-sightedness, or myopia, increases from 6 per cent to 28.9 per cent over the age range studied. Children from the Waterloo Region and Waterloo Catholic District School Boards participated in the landmark study and overall, 17.5 per cent of them are near-sighted.

Historically, myopia started at age 12 or 13, but now it is showing up more often in kids six or seven years old,” said Dr. Mike Yang, lead investigator and clinical scientist with the Centre for Ocular Research & Education (CORE) at Waterloo. “Our eyesight as a population is deteriorating and at a much younger age.
What surprised researchers the most was the number of cases of myopia going undetected and uncorrected. Left untreated, the condition worsens until the age of 21. Since it starts earlier in children today, it is possible that they may experience a much greater decline in their eyesight over a lifetime compared with previous generations.

Kids don’t know they can’t see the blackboard,” said Deborah Jones, co-lead investigator on the study and a clinical professor at the School of Optometry and Vision Science at Waterloo. “This kind of gradual loss in eyesight easily goes unnoticed without regular eye exams.

According to the report, a child has more than double the risk of developing myopia if a parent has it. However, the study found that spending one additional hour per week outdoors significantly lowers the odds of children becoming near-sighted.

The researchers plan to extend the pilot study to populations nationwide, looking at eye health within different ethnicities and environmental settings.

“We expect to find the same results in children across the country,” said Keith Gordon, Vice-President Research, CNIB. “It’s important for children between the ages of six and 19 to get an eye exam every year, as recommended by the Canadian Association of Optometrists. However even with annual check-ups, parents need to ensure that their children spend less time in front of screens and more time outside, even if it’s just one extra hour a week.”

Lyndon Jones, professor in Waterloo’s School of Optometry and Vision Science and director of the Centre for Ocular Research & Education, was the principal investigator on the project. The project development team included Keith Gordon, PhD, vice-president research at the CNIB, as well as Desmond Fonn, professor emeritus at Waterloo, Jill Woods, clinical research manager, and Doerte Luensmann, PhD, clinical scientist at CORE.

CNIB is a registered charity, passionately providing community-based support, knowledge and a national voice to ensure Canadians who are blind or partially sighted have the confidence, skills and opportunities to fully participate in life. For more information, visit www.cnib.ca.