By Jacqui Mayhew 

Ortho-k optician  Shelly Bansal is one of the best known contact lens fitters in the UK after two years as President of the British Contact Lens Association. Furthermore, his practice in Eastcote, Middlesex - First Contact Opticians  - is recognised as one of the leading independent optical practices in the South East. Shelly was one of the first contact lens fitters in the UK to launch orthokeratology - or ortho-k for short - which is a unique new treatment for short-sightedness. Ortho-k uses small custom-designed lenses which are only worn overnight while sleeping yet provide the wearer with perfect natural vision all day long after the lenses are removed each morning. The treatment is often referred to as ‘Overnight Vision Correction' or ‘OVC' and is increasingly recognised by independent practitioners as a powerful competitive weapon when competing for business with the High Street chains.

The ortho-k lenses gently flatten the cornea under the mild pressure of closed eyelids thereby correcting the angle at which light enters the eye to ensure it focuses directly on the retina and not in front of it. The effect lasts for over 24 hours so the wearer enjoys perfect natural vision all day long until reinserting the lenses at night. Being an ortho-k optician  who can provide this specialist treatment, Shelly finds that this unique approach to correcting short-sightedness is an effective means of attracting customers away from the major high street chains such as Specsavers, Boots Opticians and Vision Express who do not offer it.

Given that ortho-k offers all the benefits of laser surgery - but without the surgery, it is becoming an increasingly popular alternative to conventional treatments such as glasses or daytime contact lenses. However, because it requires more specialist clinical skills and involves a series of appointments over 4-5 weeks, the high street chains see it as being less financially attractive than promoting conventional treatments - especially since their margins on spectacle frames are so high. As a result, an ortho-k optician  like Shelly - all of whom are independent practitioners - have the field to themselves and are increasingly using the treatment to promote their clinical expertise as well as helping to demonstrate their high service standards. Ortho-k works for ages from 6 to 60 and for children in particular it is especially important since it prevents their short-sightedness from getting worse.

Check if you or your child is suitable for overnight ortho-k corrective contact lenses .

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