Background: Retrospective studies have suggested that in children with near point esophoria, bifocals can slow myopia progression by about 50 percent. A prospective study was conducted to test this hypothesis.
Methods: Thirty-two children, all with near point esophoria, were randomly divided into either correction with single-vision or with bifocal lenses containing a +1.25 D and. Axial length and refraction were measured under cycloplegia every 6 months for 18 months. Twenty-eight children completed the study.
Results: Myopia progressed at an equal rate in both groups for the first 12 months. Progression was much faster during the first 6 months, which was during the school year, than during the second 6 months, which included all of the summer vacation (0.64 D/yr vs 0.29 D/yr). During the last 6 months, myopia progressed rapidly for children in single-vision lenses (0.80 D/yr) but slowly for those in bifocals (0.37 D/yr). A repeated-measure analysis of variance showed that season of the year had a significant effect on myopia progression (p > 0.002) and that the effect differed for the two treatment groups (p > 0.043). Over the whole 18-month study, myopia progressed at rate of 0.57 D/yr for those in single-vision lenses and 0.39 D/yr in those in bifocals (p = 0.26).
Conclusions: Bifocals seemed to slow myopia progression in these children with near-point esophoria, although a longer-term study with more subjects is needed to confirm this finding. Myopia progressed more rapidly during the school year than during summer vacation.