By Malcolm Hughes

Contact lenses for children  worn only while sleeping can provide the solution to the rapid growth in short-sightedness amongst children which a recent study in Holland attributed to the increased time today's generation of under 18s spend indoors. Jan Roelof Polling from the University of Utrecht was the lead investigator on the Dutch study which reviewed data from questionnaires completed for over four thousand children aged 6 years who had firstly undergone an eye examination then responded to questions about their lifestyle. Polling stated: "we found that children who played outside less than 45 minutes a day and those spending more than 2 hours a day on near work and computer games had the longest eyes".

Short-sightedness - otherwise known as ‘Myopia' - occurs when light entering the eyes focuses in front of the retina at the back of the eye rather than directly on it. Accordingly, eyeball length is a good representative measure of the level of short-sightedness so this was a key metric used in the Dutch study. The study identified that children who played outside for less than 1 hour per day had a 34% greater risk of having an eyeball length above average than children who spent more than 2 hours outdoors. If myopia is diagnosed in children as young as 6 years-old, then an important new treatment using custom-designed contact lenses for children  based on the long-established optical science of orthokeratology (or ortho-k for short) should be considered by parents.

Once children as young as 6 years-old develop myopia, research has shown that the condition can develop rapidly through childhood - by as much as half a diopter each year - meaning they can be extremely short-sighted by the time they leave their teenage years. Given that high myopia levels are associated with a much greater risk of serious eye health issues in later life, this emphasises the importance of choosing a corrective treatment like ortho-k contact lenses for children  which research  has shown can halt the progress of short-sightedness. This is in addition to encouraging children to spend more time outdoors in natural light which has around ten times the intensity of indoor light.

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