By Steve Roberts
Improve eyesight for children without glasses, daytime contact lenses: it seems like a Holy Grail for children with eyesight problems who would love to be able to enjoy perfect natural daytime vision. But at the annual British Contact Lens Association (BCLA) meeting in Birmingham last week, Dr Robert Gerowitz from Chicago reported on a major study recently completed in the US which appears to have identified just such a solution for short-sightedness, the most prevalent problem experienced by children. The ‘SMART Study' - which stands for Stabilising Myopia by Accelerated Reshaping Technique - has tracked some 200 short-sighted children over more than three years to measure the effectiveness of a relatively new treatment called ‘Overnight Orthokeratology' (or Overnight Ortho-k for short).
The 200 were separated into two groups to see which option proved best able to improve eyesight for children : the first wore conventional daily disposable contact lenses whilst the second wore the new, custom-designed overnight ortho-k lenses which are only worn while sleeping. The latter correct short-sight by gently flattening the surface of the eye during sleep under the pressure of closed eyelids so that after removal each morning, light entering the eye focuses directly on the retina rather than in front of it. Like a muscle, the eye retains this corrected shape for over 24 hours until the lenses are reinserted at night. So the child enjoys perfect natural vision all day long without needing any daytime correction aid.
To be able to improve eyesight for children while they sleep as against the conventional approach of having to wear glasses or daytime contact lenses seems a fantastic new treatment for short-sight. Just think, no more worries for parents that their child breaks his or her glasses or loses a contact lens during school time - in fact, the child can participate fully in all classroom, playground and sports activities without needing any visual aid. But as Doctor Gerowitz pointed out, this great benefit is only part of the story from the SMART Study. Amazingly, once they start wearing overnight ortho-k lenses, they stop the child's short-sight from getting worse. This is something that neither glasses or daytime contact lenses can do.
Check if your child is suitable for overnight ortho-k corrective contact lenses .