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Myopia Research: Far from Shortsighted

Adams, Tony

doi: 10.1097/OPX.0000000000000116
Press Release

Editor in Chief

Optometry and Vision Science

Optometry and Vision Science (OVS) has had a very special year 2013. This month, we celebrate with our second Feature Issue for 2013. We focus attention, once again, on the advances in a very exciting field for researchers and clinicians alike—myopia. The interest in causes, preventatives, treatments for slowing the advance of myopia, and the molecular events underlying the changes in eye shape that produce the myopia remain at a high point. The debate and passion surrounding these discussions are palpable. As our superb Guest Editorial notes, there are many issues that need to be clarified at a time when there has never been so much excitement about the candidate contributory factors (environmental, behavioral, and genetic) to myopia onset and progression. With startling worldwide prevalence and an alarming increasing incidence of myopia, especially in some Asian countries, the opportunity and interest in research and treatment have heightened. So, too, have the number of participants available for population studies in myopia research.

In 2013 alone, two top journals (three counting OVS) have had theme issues on myopia research—both dedicated to the memory of one of the pioneers in animal research, Josh Wallman, whose work with chicken eyes helped reinvigorate overall interest in myopia as a research topic. In addition, there have been at least two international research conferences on myopia.

Our Guest Editors are international pioneers in myopia research, and they each remain active as leaders in both animal and human myopia research. They have done a marvelous job putting this OVS Feature Myopia Issue together. This international team of six (Donald Mutti, Jane Gwiazda, Thomas Norton, Frank Schaeffel, Earl Smith, and Chi-ho To) has been led by OVS Editorial Board member Donald Mutti.

Donald O. Mutti, OD, PhD, FAAO, is no stranger to playing a leadership role in OVS Feature issues during the past decade—this is his third, each on issues of refractive error. Nor is he a stranger to landmark myopia research, being a principal in the well-known UCB Orinda Longitudinal Study of Myopia (OLSM) and principal investigator in the Berkeley Infant Biometry Study (BIBS). Don is currently the E.F. Wildermuth Professor of Optometry at the Ohio State University College of Optometry. He received his Doctor of Optometry degree in 1982 and his PhD in Vision Science in 1992, both from the School of Optometry at the University of California Berkeley. Don’s research is in emmetropization of infants and the development of myopia in children. He was more recently a coinvestigator on the Collaborative Longitudinal Evaluation of Ethnicity and Refractive Error (CLEERE) study and earlier was principal investigator of BIBS. Don received the first American Academy of Optometry Borish Award in Support of Research in 1996 and went on to be awarded the prestigious Glenn A. Fry Award from the American Optometric Foundation in 2006. Professor Mutti is a Fellow of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology and has been a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry for 25 years.

Jane Gwiazda, PhD, FAAO, is a professor of Vision Science and the director of Research at the New England College of Optometry in Boston, Mass. She too enjoys an enviable reputation as a human myopia researcher. After obtaining her PhD from Northeastern University, she was a research scientist at MIT, conducting studies of infant visual development. Her current research interests include risk factors and treatments for myopia in children. Jane chairs the Correction of Myopia Evaluation Trial (COMET), a multisite clinical trial funded by the National Eye Institute (NEI)/National Institutes of Health (NIH) that evaluated two types of lenses in slowing the progression of juvenile myopia and is now a longitudinal investigation of factors related to the progression and stabilization of myopia. She is an editorial board member of Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science and the Journal of Optometry, an Associate Topical Editor for Optometry and Vision Science, and a Fellow of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology and the American Academy of Optometry.

Tom Norton, PhD, FAAO, is a professor in the Department of Vision Sciences at the UAB School of Optometry. His research makes use of us an animal model to study the functioning of the emmetropization mechanism as a way to learn the causes of human refractive error. For more than 30 years, he and his students and colleagues have examined how animal eyes respond to hyperopic and myopic defocus and have studied the biomechanical and biochemical changes that occur in the sclera during myopia development. He also helped to start and guide the COMET study, which found that progressive addition lenses slow the progression of myopia in children. The COMET group has continued to follow the children and is characterizing the pattern of myopia cessation and the factors that may contribute to myopia cessation.

Frank Schaeffel, PhD, has worked on the biological mechanisms of myopia since 1985, starting when he was a postdoctoral fellow with Professor Howard Howland at Cornell University. Together with Adrian Glasser and Howard Howland, he was the first to put lenses in front of a vertebrate eye to see whether development of refractive state is guided by defocus imposed on the retina. This work was in chickens but was later successfully repeated in several other animal models of myopia, including rhesus monkeys by Earl Smith in 1995. Since 2000, he has been a professor at the Ophthalmic Research Institute in Tuebingen, Germany, directing the Section of Neurobiology of the Eye. His research has received multiple awards, including the European Vision Award in 2012. He is also a scientific coordinator of two research networks funded by the European Community, and his laboratory has received several million Euros funding for years from the German Research Council, the European Community, and others. He has published more than 130 original research articles.

Earl L. Smith, III, OD, PhD, FAAO, is a professor (Greeman-Petty Professorship in Vision Development) and the dean of the University of Houston College of Optometry. His research interests are focused on the optics of the eye and myopia development. Earl Smith received the prestigious Glenn A. Fry Award and Prentice Medal Award from the American Academy of Optometry for his research on the role of vision in regulating refractive development and eye growth. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry, an ARVO Fellow (inaugural class), a past member and chair of the NIH NEI Central Visual Processing Study Section and a past member of NIH National Advisory Eye Council. His research on primate myopia development is internationally acclaimed.

Chi-ho To, OD, PhD, is the current head of the Hong Kong Polytechnical University Department of Optometry. He trained as an optometrist in Hong Kong and later obtained his PhD from Cardiff University, Wales, in the United Kingdom. He has been involved in both basic and clinical research in myopia since he returned to Hong Kong. Chi-ho is currently the director of the Centre for Myopia Research in Hong Kong. His work has led to a better understanding of how the retina integrates optical defocus and guides eye growth in myopic animals. He later translated this laboratory finding into a human clinical trial and found that myopic defocus can indeed slow down human myopia. Chi-ho is among the first to profile the proteomes of the myopic retina. His proteomic work has opened up new directions in studying the biological mechanisms of myopia. He has been well funded by foundations and funding bodies both inside and outside Hong Kong.

Three of the Guest Editor team (Mutti, Smith, Norton) teamed up with two of our Feature Issue: Myopia authors (David Berntsen, OF, PhD, FAAO; Jeffrey Walline, OD, PhD, FAAO) to provide a Continuing Education course (OVS Presents: Myopia) in Seattle last month. The course drew a lot of interest from clinicians, and many of the highlights of this current OVS Feature Issue were cited, with emphasis on the clinical care implications in clinical practice.

It is with great pride that the OVS Editorial Team presents this Feature Issue. As Editor in Chief, joined by the Managing Editor (Kurt Zadnik) and the entire OVS Editorial Board, we thank these impressive Guest Editors for their accomplishment.

A final word and positive news for some of our authors. Our Publisher, Wolters Kluwer Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, has recently agreed to offer authors the opportunity to have what is known in the publishing world as “hybrid” open access. Beginning this month, authors who wish their paper to become open access immediately on publication and wish to own the copyright of the article may purchase that option. Authors wishing to do this will be offered the option on acceptance of their OVS manuscript. Some authors may find this a way to meet a requirement of their funding agency or they may simply wish to purchase this option from the publisher rather than wait for their published article to become free 12 months later. Authors will want to check with their own institutions on possible subsidy for this option; to encourage open access publishing for their own researchers’ work, some institutions are offering to subsidize their faculty, even for hybrid open access. The details of the publisher arrangement for the option can be found in the OVS Instructions for Authors.

For now, I invite you to spend some time reading the brilliant Guest Editorial on myopia research advances and then move to the detailed research articles on myopia that can be found in this November OVS issue.

© 2013 American Academy of Optometry