By Steve Roberts 

Ortho-k opticians  are increasingly becoming the front line in treating the upsurge in vision problems being experienced by children which experts attribute to spending too much time on screen-based activities both at school and at home. In today's technology-led society, children are spending countless hours on computers and smartphones, with the academic tasks increasingly being done on PCs in the classroom and then switching to social media sites like Facebook plus texting and gaming. With all this screen time comes an ever-increasing chance of eyestrain and fatigue. Unlike adults, children have a different perspective about using technology and can sit staring at screens for hours, ignoring the signs of eye fatigue and strain. Furthermore, so much of this screen-based activity is taking place indoors where the average light level is typically only one-tenth of natural light outdoors thus compounding the problem.

Inevitably, this significant increase in near vision activity is resulting in rising levels of short-sightedness amongst children and, once established, a child can experience as much as -0.5 diopters further deterioration in vision every year through to adulthood. This is where the role of ortho-k opticians  becomes so important since they can prescribe the special ortho-k lenses for children which not only correct their short-sightedness but also stop it from worsening further. Latest research  has highlighted how the lenses prevent the child's short-sightedness getting worse once he or she starts wearing ortho-k lenses . Uniquely, the lenses are only worn overnight while sleeping then removed each morning after which the wearer enjoys perfect natural vision all day long until lenses are reinserted at night.

The lenses work by gently flattening the surface of the eye overnight to ensure light entering the eye lands directly on the retina at the back of the eye rather than in front of it and ortho-k opticians  have successfully fitted children as young as six years old. The correction lasts for over 24 hours so the child enjoys perfect vision from morning through to night time and means that all classroom, playground and sports activities can be enjoyed without needing any visual aids like glasses or daytime contact lenses. At the same time, it is also very important that children are educated on the importance of taking short breaks when they should change their vision focus from a screen in front of them to different objects away from them. The 20-20-20 rule should be emphasised - every 20 minutes, take a 20 second break to look at objects at least 20 metres away.

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

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