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Thursday, 22 May 1980
Page: 3154

Dr Everingham asked the Minister for Health, upon notice, on 22 April 1980:

(   1 ) Has his attention been drawn to a report in the Canberra Timesof 28 March 1980, page5, concerning new research which suggests that myopia is related to concentrated use of the eyes for close work in youth.

(2)   Is this consistent with theories that bifocal adjustment of myopia may help to retard the development of the disorder more than single lens prescriptions.

Mr MacKellar - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   Yes.

(2)   The true significance of the findings of the study mentioned in the article, especially relating to the value of bifocals in retarding the progression of myopia, is difficult to evaluate. Debate exists over the relative contributions of genetic and environmental factors in the cause of myopia, and circumstantial evidence is accumulating to suggest that environmental aspects may be of more importance than previously thought.

Although environmental factors are suspected, little is known about the possible mechanisms that could be involved in the aetiology of acquired myopia. It is therefore difficult to extrapolate the hypothesis to the role of bifocals. I agree however, that once the mechanism and role of environmental factors are established, this would provide valuable information on possible methods of treating myopia.

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