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PUBLIC RELEASE DATE:
29-May-2014

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Contact: Lisa Merkl
lkmerkl@uh.edu
713-743-8192
University of Houston
www.twitter.com/UH_Cougars

UH part of $7.5 million NIH clinical trial on nearsightedness in children

Goal of BLINK study is to slow progression of myopia in kids

IMAGE: University of Houston professor David A. Berntsen, O.D., Ph.D., is part of a $7.5 million NIH study with a goal of slowing the progression of nearsightedness in children. The BLINK...

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HOUSTON, May 29, 2014 The University of Houston (UH) is part of a National Institutes of Health (NIH) study to determine whether commercially available, soft bifocal contact lenses slow the progression of nearsightedness in children.

Investigators at UH and The Ohio State University (OSU) Colleges of Optometry were awarded grants from the NIH's National Eye Institute, worth approximately $7.5 million over five years. The Bifocal Lenses In Nearsighted Kids (BLINK) Study is a multicenter randomized clinical trial that will follow nearly 300 children over the course of three years. Dr. David A. Berntsen, an assistant professor in the UH College of Optometry, is the principal investigator for the UH clinical site of this collaborative effort.

Children 7 to 11 years old will be enrolled and randomly assigned to wear soft contact lenses with no reading power, soft contact lenses with medium reading power or soft contact lenses with high reading power. The investigators will measure the length of the eye and the amount of nearsightedness to determine whether light focused by the reading power of the soft bifocal contact lenses in front of the retina will result in slower eye growth and, thus, slower progression of nearsightedness.

"This study will determine whether soft bifocal contact lenses can be used to slow how quickly a child's nearsightedness increases," Berntsen said. "If we find that soft bifocal contact lenses are effective, then the information we learn from this study will aid in optimizing future lens designs to slow eye growth and the progression of nearsightedness in children."

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In addition to Berntsen, the other members of the team are BLINK Study chair and OSU associate professor Dr. Jeffrey J. Walline; OSU professor Dr. Donald O. Mutti, who is the principal investigator at the OSU clinical site; and OSU research associate professor Lisa A. Jones-Jordan, who is the director of the data coordinating center. The investigators plan to begin enrollment in the next few months and to complete recruitment within one year.

For more information, contact Berntsen at dberntsen@optometry.uh.edu or 713-743-5836.

About the University of Houston

The University of Houston is a Carnegie-designated Tier One public research university recognized by The Princeton Review as one of the nation's best colleges for undergraduate education. UH serves the globally competitive Houston and Gulf Coast Region by providing world-class faculty, experiential learning and strategic industry partnerships. Located in the nation's fourth-largest city, UH serves more than 39,500 students in the most ethnically and culturally diverse region in the country. For more information about UH, visit the university's newsroom at http://www.uh.edu/news-events/.

About the UH College of Optometry

Since 1952, the University of Houston College of Optometry (UHCO) has educated and trained optometrists to provide the highest quality vision care. One of only 22 optometry schools in the country, UHCO offers a variety of degree programs, including Doctor of Optometry (O.D.), a combined Doctor of Optometry/Doctor of Philosophy (O.D./Ph.D.), Master of Science (M.S.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). UHCO serves an average of 50,000 patients a year through The University Eye Institute and its external clinics located in the Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth regions.

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