By Michael Hutton
Contact lenses for children which are custom designed based on the optical science of orthokeratology - otherwise known as ortho-k - have been shown in a new study to be effective in dramatically slowing the progression of myopia (more commonly referred to as shortsightedness) which would normally occur throughout a child's development to adulthood. The two year study undertaken by the School of Optometry at Hong Kong Polytechnic University involved 77 shortsighted children aged between 7 and 10 years who were divided into two groups. One of the groups wore spectacles whilst the other was fitted with the new ortho-k lenses which are only worn overnight while sleeping then removed each morning.
Ortho-k lenses work by gently reshaping the cornea overnight and are custom designed and made to correct the exact level of shortsightedness in each child. After the ortho-k lenses are removed, the wearer then enjoys perfect natural vision which lasts all day long until the lenses are reinserted at night. In China, it is estimated that some 80% of the population is myopic and by the time a child reaches adulthood the level of myopia is often very high so having demonstrated that ortho-k contact lenses for children is an effective treatment which can be offered from a very early age when their myopia is relatively low is of great importance.
However, even in Europe, the rate of myopia has increased dramatically over the past 50 years and around 40% of the population are now estimated to be shortsighted so the benefits of ortho-k are equally important in the west. Professor Pauline Cho from the School of Optometry has been researching orthokeratology for many years and is a firm supporter of this treatment for children. Based on her research, she says: ""The ortho-k lens will modify the corneal shape as well as correct the focus of the eye in order to correct the wearer's vision." As such, ortho-k contact lenses for children can result in much lower levels of myopia being evident once a child becomes an adult which reduces the risk of other more serious eye conditions developing.
Check if your child is suitable for ortho-k corrective contact lenses for children