By Steve Roberts

Overnight contact lenses  - which are only worn while sleeping - provide a fully reversible and non-surgical alternative to laser treatment to enable short-sighted people, both young and old, to enjoy perfect daytime vision. So finally you can say goodbye to glasses and daytime contact lenses. This breakthrough treatment is known as ‘orthokeratology' - ortho-k for short - and is based on an optical science which has been around for 50 years but until recently could not be offered on a commercially viable basis. However, this has all changed thanks to developments in computer-based corneal diagnostics using topography together with improvements in production technology which enable sub-micron precision in lens manufacturing.

Ortho-k involves the nightly insertion of small custom-designed lenses before going to bed and then removing them each morning. The lenses work by gently flattening the surface of the eyes using the mild pressure of closed eyelids during sleep. This ensures that, after the overnight contact lenses  are removed, light entering the eyes focuses directly on the retina rather than in front of it so that distant objects can be seen clearly rather than appear blurred. The ortho-k effect lasts for over 24 hours so that lens wearers enjoy perfect vision all day long until the lenses are reinserted at night.

For children, this takes away the stigma of wearing glasses and ensures they can see perfectly whether in the classroom, on the playground or participating in any sports activities including swimming. Even more importantly, recent research  has shown that ortho-k overnight contact lenses  actually stop the child's short-sightedness from getting worse. For parents this deals with the fear that continuing deterioration in a child's prescription - which can average half a diopter every year - could mean they enter adulthood with very poor eyesight. For adults, the lenses provide the ultimate freedom to enjoy a 24/7 lifestyle without worrying about having glasses or contact lenses to hand.

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