Only a few days after announcing significant developments for its myopia management lens in China and the U.S. during its conference call with financial investors, EssilorLuxottica disclosed updated results on its Stellest research during the online congress of the Société Française d’Ophtalmologie a few days ago and confirmed a launch in France in the coming weeks.

Launched in 2018 on a population of 104 nearsighted children divided in two groups, the research project by the R&D team of the company in partnership with the Wenzhou Medical University in China concluded that the use of Stellest lenses for at least 12 hours per day was reducing the speed of myopia progression by 67 percent as compared to standard unifocal lenses. This represents an average loss of 0.99 diopter point over a two-year period.

The researchers also observed that, after one year, the elongation of the eye of the children using the Stellest lens was similar or slower to that of non-myopic children in 90 percent of cases. Another finding of the study was that two out of three children in the group wearing Stellest lenses didn’t need to a change their lens prescription after the first year.

The Stellest lenses are based on the Highly Aspherical Lenslet Target (H.A.L.T.) technology, which the company describes as a constellation of aspherical lenslets spread on 11 rings. The power on each ring has been determined to guarantee a volume of signal always in front of the retina and following its shape to achieve consistent myopia slowdown.

The group had first launched its Stellest lens in China in July last year, starting with a distribution through hospitals, but has now started to sell it through its retail channel in the region, including Lenscrafters. During the investors’ call for the presentation of its first quarter’s financial results, Paul du Saillant, deputy chief executive officer of EssilorLuxottica, said that the group has equipped more than 1,000 children per day in China with Stellest lenses since the start of the year on avearge. Stellest, which is currently only distributed in China, Russia and Singapore, will be progressively launched in other Asian countries in the coming months.

On the same occasion, du Saillant also announced that the company had just obtained the status of “breakthrough device” for Stellest by the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) in the U.S., an official recognition that accelerates the authorization process for ”medical devices that offer more effective treatment or diagnosis of life-threatening or irreversibly debilitating diseases or conditions”. However, the company said it was too early to announce a launch date for the new lens in the U.S.

During the call, du Saillant also stressed that the specificity of myopia management products like Stellest required a holistic approach in order to communicate and onboard three different groups: consumers – children and their parents -, eye care professionals - ophthalmologists and optometrists -, and the points of sales – opticians. This relative complexity probably explains the progressive roll-out of the myopia management product in Europe, as the group has so far only confirmed a launch in France, scheduled for June 1.

As previously reported, EssilorLuxottica had also agreed to create a joint-venture with CooperCompanies for the acquisition of SightGlass Vision, a company focusing on myopia management lenses, whose products are described as complementary to Stellest.

Zeiss and Hoya also added myopia management lenses to their portfolio in the recent years. The German group launched its ZEISS MyoVision Pro and ZEISS MyoKids lenses in China and other Asian countries in 2018 and said that it would make new announcements on the product category in the course of the year. Hoya also started with its MiYoSmart lens in China in 2018 before a progressive launch in other Asian countries and Canada. The Japanese group was the first to launch its lens in Europe, starting with France at the end of last year before rolling it out in Spain, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Netherlands, Russia and the U.K. last month. The company said at the time that it had already trained 1,500 opticians and optometrists in these countries, and equipped a total of 500,000 children with its MiYoSmart lenses globally.