By Jacqui Mayhew
Ortho-k lenses for children are a new treatment for not only correcting short-sight - where distant objects appear blurred - but also for stopping their short-sight from worsening as they progress through their childhood years. This new treatment has emerged at a time when short-sight is becoming an increasingly greater eye health problem, with latest data suggesting some 30-40 per cent of people in the UK are now affected. Whilst genetic factors are believed to be partly responsible for short-sight, more recently clinical researchers have highlighted how today's generation of children spend significantly less time outdoors where natural light is up to ten times greater than indoor light and this is regarded as a significant new contributory factor to the increase in short-sightedness.
Short-sight occurs when the eyeball lengthens which means that light entering the eye focuses in front of the retina rather than directly onto it. Exposure to sunshine stimulates the body's production of a chemical called dopamine which is known to prevent the eyeball from elongating so ensuring that light focuses directly on the retina. With ortho-k lenses for children which are only worn overnight while sleeping, the mild pressure of closed eyelids during sleep enables the custom-designed lenses to gently flatten the surface of the eye and thereby correct the elongation effect. The correction lasts for over 24 hours so the child enjoys perfect natural vision all day long from removing the lenses each morning right through until the lenses are reinserted at night.
Lifestyle changes over the past 20 years have meant that children today spend significantly more time indoors both at school and in their leisure time, with much of this spent focusing on near distance activities such as TV, smartphones, PCs and gaming consoles. Given this trend is unlikely to be reversed, there are increasing concerns about long term major eye health issues given the proven link between high levels of short-sight and other more serious sight-threatening conditions such as glaucoma. Hence the key aim is to identify short-sight in children at as early an age as possible and commence corrective treatment given that short-sight can worsen by up to half a diopter every year throughout childhood. Ortho-k lenses for children which can be worn from age 6 upwards can become a highly important new treatment given that clinical studies have shown they prevent short-sight from progressing.
Check if your child is suitable for overnight ortho-k corrective contact lenses for children.