Japan’s Kubota Pharmaceutical Holdings says its new glasses can slow down the onset of myopia (nearsightedness), preventing it in children, or even reversing it, if you just wear them for 60-90 minutes a day.
Nearsightedness is a common eye condition in which you see objects close to you clearly, but objects farther away are blurry. It’s particularly prevalent in Asia, where 8 of 10 young adults have myopia (in China, the rate is as high as 9 in 10).
The first announcement came in September, when Kubota described the general principle. Instead of the surgery approach, where the cornea is reshaped, the glasses would shorten the distance from the cornea to the retina, which studies have shown can tackle myopia (which often occurs when the distance between the cornea and the retina increases).
The smart glasses project myopically defocused virtual images, using LEDs. This stimulates the retina in the desired way. “The glasses project an image in front of the peripheral retina, teaching the eye to become shorter, thus reducing or reducing the rate of development of myopia while maintaining central vision and not affecting daily activities,” the company said in an email to OIS.
But the announcement, as exciting as it may be, should be taken with a grain of skepticism. For starters, it doesn’t actually explain how the glasses work, nor did it publish any large-scale clinical trials to document its results (although it said its tests yielded positive results in July). In fact, according to the announcement, the company is currently still determining how many days the user must wear the device to achieve a permanent correction.
The only results come from a press release on May 17, 2020, which announced the results of a clinical study conducted in early-2020 on 12 young adults between the ages of 21 and 32. The study found that the technology works, decreasing the lengths of their eyes.
Kubota is now undergoing clinical tests on 25 people in the US. However, the glasses will first go on sale in Asia, the company says. Kubota will sell its glasses in Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia in the second half of 2021.