By Malcolm Hughes

Contact lenses for children  which are only worn overnight while sleeping have been shown to be effective in correcting short-sightedness in children as reported by The Mail On Sunday. The Mail features the conclusions of a US research project known as the SMART Study which compared the results from almost 300 short-sighted children wearing either conventional soft contact lenses or the new orthokeratology lenses. The latter - usually referred to as ‘orthok' lenses - work by gently flattening the surface of the eye using the mild pressure of closed eyelids during sleep. This means that light entering the eyes focuses directly on the retina rather than in front of it.

The orthok effect lasts for over 24 hours so that after they are removed each morning, the lens wearer enjoys perfect vision all day long until the lenses are reinserted at night. More importantly, these special new contact lenses for children  have also been shown to stop their short-sightedness getting worse. The SMART Study shows that orthok contact lenses can be used like dental braces to retain the eye in the correct shape so that the child's eyesight will not worsen as they get older. For parents, they know that their children can enjoy perfect vision in the classroom, on the playground and in any sports activities without needing glasses or conventional daytime contact lenses.

As reported in The Mail, experts believe that the findings of the SMART Study represent a major breakthrough and could change the way short-sightedness is treated. Adults are also now switching to orthok lenses to treat their short-sightedness since they offer all the benefits of laser treatment without the need for any surgery. Professor James Wolffsohn, an expert in optical science at Birmingham's Aston University is part of the team that is setting up the UK's first myopia clinic to be dedicated to the orthokeratology technique. So it is clear that these revolutionary contact lenses for children  and adults could become a major alternative in treating short-sightedness.

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