By Jennifer Golden

Contact lenses for children  with short-sight which are only worn overnight while sleeping could be the only way of preventing their eyesight from continuing to deteriorate as they spend an increasing amount of their time staring at a wide array of screens - TV, computer, smartphone and games console. A panel of 10 ophthalmology experts discussed the global increase of childhood short-sight - otherwise known as myopia - at the American Academy of Ophthalmology's (AAO) recent annual meeting in Las Vegas. Attention focused on the fact that myopia incidence has doubled in less than 50 years and now affects over 40% of adults and children in Europe and America, a rate of increase that the World Health Organisation identifies as representing an epidemic.

Experts fear that the rate of increase in myopia will accelerate due to the dramatic increase in time spent on "near work" -- focusing on something close to your eyes - combined with the decreased amount of time spent outdoors in natural light. "Kids are spending much more time on indoor screen-based activities," said Dr. Rohit Varma, director of the University of Southern California Eye Institute in Los Angeles. "When they play these games indoors where they're seeing things very close to them and doing it in low-light level it contributes to these children becoming very short-sighted," Varma said. The new overnight contact lenses for children  which are based on the long established optical science of orthokeratology (orthok) are a new treatment option to slow down or stop the rate at which the myopia develops.

Myopia in a child is likely to continue to worsen by around half a diopter every year means they will suffer from high myopia in adulthood. This condition is associated with serious eye health conditions ranging from retinal detachment through to glaucoma so trying to control the progression of myopia is very important. Overnight orthok contact lenses for children  have been shown in clinical research  to dramatically slow or halt the rate at which short-sightedness progresses. After being inserted at night, the lenses gently flatten the surface of the eye under the mild pressure of closed eyelids to ensure that light focuses directly on the retina rather than in front of it. When the lenses are removed in the morning, the eye stays in this shape for over 24 hours until the lenses are reinserted at night. Continued lens wear keeps the eyes in this shape and limits further deterioration.

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