By Susan K Walton
Can't see? Things are getting more blurry on the white board or smart board in the classroom?
No way am I wearing glasses!!
If this is your child, then why not consider contact lenses? Age is not a barrier. Quite young children can successfully be fitted with contact lenses with parental monitoring. Many are quite capable of managing these lenses. There are many very good reasons for children with more extreme prescriptions to wear contact lenses:
- They may actually see better than they do with their glasses
- More practical for dance and sporting activities
- Feel more confident socially
- And rigid (or hard) contact lenses have been shown to slow the rate of myopia (shortsightedness)
The range and choices available now means that most, if not all prescriptions can be fitted with contact lenses.
Soft Disposable Contact Lenses
These are the usual types chosen, since they are extremely comfortable. Using disposable contact lenses means that a lost or torn lens (which does not happen too often anyway) is not a major problem. The rate of replacing with new lenses ranges from daily through to monthly, with the choice of one day replacement being a highly desirable option for children. It is now affordable to replace lenses daily and this removes the problem of the child (and parent) losing track of the length of time each pair of lenses has been worn as well as whether the lenses are being properly disinfected.
What about the possibility of reducing my worsening myopia? Why not try Orthokeratology (also known as OK, Ortho-K or corneal refractive therapy - CRT). This is a clinical technique of corneal reshaping using specially designed rigid contact lenses. Studies at the University of NSW and also in Asia are showing that Ortho-K may help slow down changes in prescription for some children by as much as 50%. So what is Ortho-K? Your sight correction is achieved with a custom designed Ortho-K lens similar to a contact lens. When placed on your eye, the Ortho-K lens floats on your tear-film and while you sleep the lens gently reshapes your cornea (the front surface of your eye) to correct your distance vision. When you wake up, you simply remove the lens and see, without needing to wear contacts or glasses during the whole day.
Your vision remains good all day without the need for further correction. In some cases you may get good sight that lasts a couple of days. Most people experience a 50 to 70% improvement in sight after the first night wearing these lenses and usually achieve vision all day consistently within 2 weeks.
As well as potentially slowing rates of myopia, Orthokeratology is great for people who are prone to allergies, suffer from dry eyes, or have developed an intolerance to soft contact lenses. How good would it be to see well while swimming this summer!
The latest research demonstrates that Ortho-K is safe when the lenses are fitted correctly. The lenses are made from high oxygen permeable materials designed to allow overnight wear, but because the lens is worn in the closed eye environment, it is very important that you stick to good
hygiene when handling your lenses to avoid infections.
Age is no barrier - from kids through to their grandparents. Initially available only for shortsightedness, there are now lenses available for astigmatism as well.
Open up to the freedom and choice of contact lens wear for both full time or occasional wear for you and your children.
About Susan K Walton
Susan has been in independent practice in the Newcastle area for 30 years. Her 21yr old daughter Hannah, works in the practice as a Vision Therapist. Susan gained her Bachelor of Optometry in 1981 and became an inaugural Fellow of the Australasian College of Behavioural Optometry in 1988.
She specialises in Behavioural and Neurodevelopmental Vision Care and also Sports Vision (having been a past National Chairperson), and is the only practitioner in the region fitting Ortho-K contact lenses for the management of myopia (or short-sightedness). She is the Australian Director of the Opening Eyes Program for the Special Olympics - a position she has held for some 16 years. In the above capacities Susan has attended both the Atlanta Olympics and three Special Olympic World Games in the USA and Dublin, Ireland. Locally, Susan is the Sports Vision consultant to the Hunter Academy of Sport and has advised in this capacity for fifteen years.
She thoroughly enjoys, and is passionate about her profession.
Susan K Walton
B Optom FACBO
Susan K Walton Optometrist
245 King St, Newcastle NSW 2300
P: 02 4926 4799