Ortho-K lenses deliver clear result on the touch field

Rodney College student Georgia Brierly has just returned from a touch competition in Europe, where she represented the NZ Barbarians U18 Girls Sevens team against club sides from Sweden and the Netherlands.

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Conveniently Georgia has been able to ditch her glasses thanks to her orthokeratology (Ortho-K) lenses that correct her eyesight as she sleeps. Advances in Ortho-K, mean Georgia no longer has to wear glasses or contact lenses during the day.

Ortho-K involves gently reshaping the cornea of the eye to temporarily modify or eliminate refractive error - including short sightedness or myopia.

While the process has been practised for almost 40 years, results were quite variable and unpredictable. However, in the last 10 years new technology has become available to accurately map the corneal shape and manufacture lenses that will achieve a controlled and precise correction in the eye. In addition, new developments in lens materials have been made that enable safe overnight wear to be possible.

Optometrists fitting Ortho-K soon realised that young people wearing these lenses to correct short- sightedness didn’t progress or get worse like those who wore regular glasses or soft contact lenses. Numerous studies confirmed that wearing Ortho-K lenses stopped or slowed kids from getting more short-sighted.

“Rates of short-sightedness have been increasing worldwide; in the US rates of myopia (short-sightedness) have increased from 25 per cent to 42 per cent in 30 years and by 2050 it is predicted that 50 per cent of the population will be short-sighted, doubling what the rate was in 2000,” Claire McDonald says.

“Our concerns are also the more short-sighted you become, there is more risk your eyes will develop cataracts, retinal detachments, macular degeneration and glaucoma. So Ortho-K offers both short term and long term benefits”.

Ortho-k is now a safe, viable and reversible alternative to refractive surgery. The cornea, while being mouldable, will return to its original shape if lens wear is stopped.

“You simply sleep in your lenses, then wake up and remove them, and enjoy clear vision all day.”

Georgia said she enjoys playing touch while being able to see clearly without having to think about using corrective contact lenses, and her mum, Rachel, tells us “Ortho-K has changed Georgia’s life”.

Are Screens the new Smoking?

As optometrists we are hugely concerned about the increase in young people becoming short-sighted. We wonder are screens the new smoking? Is all this close work causing more young people to have difficulty seeing clearly in the distance?

The two main concerns are: 1 children becoming myopic (short-sighted) at a younger age, and 2 the rate of progression of myopia through the teenage years.

Now there is science to support the message that outdoor time will delay the start of myopia. Such a simple concept, which all parents have been saying for all time - go outside and play.

There are many online information sites and initiatives to help educate parents, especially parents who are short-sighted as their children are more at risk. The above poster was created by a paediatric ophthalmologist keen to spread the message - outdoor play keeps myopia away. We are currently distributing these to our local early childhood centres, to help people understand the positive health benefits of making sure children get 2+ hours of natural outdoor daylight each day.

If you want any further information please do not hesitate to contact us. If you have concerns about your child’s vision book an appointment today.

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Are Glasses an Outdated Way of Correcting Your Child’s Eyesight?

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Last month we were fortunate enough to hear Australian Optomerists Kate and Paul Gifford speak at an event in Auckland. This dynamic pair of Aussies are on a mission to educate both the public and optometrists about Myopia Control. They were preaching to the converted - we too are very passionate about spreading this important message. Kate and Paul have now added a blog to their very useful website, My Kid's Vision. Guest writers are contributing and we recommend you check it out.

My Kid's Vision - Are Glasses an Outdated Way of Correcting Your Child’s Eyesight?

This will appeal to all those myopes out there, imagine a world when we don't simply add stronger lenses each teenage year as vision deteriorates. Read the post and share this important message.

Slowing Myopia - OrthoK Case Notes

Fitting children with hard contact lenses which they will wear while sleeping at night may seem like a big undertaking, but the outcomes
continue to impress us. From the first morning these children see massive improvements in their vision - one of the most rewarding
aspects to this work.
When we met Jack* he was 6 years old, an outdoors boy who loved to read, struggling to see the whiteboard at school. Jack’s Mum is
highly short-sighted (-9.00D myopic), and his dad is moderately short-sighted (-2.50D myopic). Jack’s first prescription in December
2015 was -1.00D.
Jack also had poor visual efficiency, a risk factor for becoming more myopic. The first step was a behavioural optometry assessment
and vision therapy to improve his binocular vision. This was successful, but his distance vision remained blurred.

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At the end of 2016 Jack got his first pair of glasses. To start he only wore his glasses a couple of times a week at school. Over a 6
month period, Jack’s vision got worse, by -0.50D. If he continued at this rate, by 18 years old his prescription could track towards -
11.00D increasing the risk of serious future eye problems (retinal detachment, glaucoma and maculopathy).
This year we have fitted Jack with custom made Ortho K contact lenses to wear while sleeping. This gives him clear vision the next day
once he takes out his contacts. Importantly, wearing these contact lenses can significantly slow down his myopia progression.
When we checked Jack after his first night wearing his contacts, he commented “I can see great” and his vision was 6/6 (equivalent to
20/20). He managed to take out his lenses solo on the second morning. There are more firsts; he was able to see his parents in the
back row of assembly when he won an award at school. His family report “we are so impressed with these lenses, Jack is really excited
to be able to see clearly and positive about the process.”
Jack will have follow-up checks every 6 months to monitor his vision. So far, after 2 months of treatment his vision has not changed at
all.
*name changed for privacy

Myopia Management - Resources

Short-sightedness is a global public health problem. Most people think of myopia (the medical term for short-sightedness) as an inconvenience because the blurred vision it causes is easily corrected with glasses or contact lenses. The problem is that a myopic eye is a longer eye and so the light sensitive part at the back of the eye is stretched. This can lead to a number of eye diseases in later life, such as glaucoma, maculopathy and retinal detachment. Higher levels of myopia (stronger glasses) correlates to greater problems.

Experts are also concerned because the number of people with myopia is increasing. Research suggests that by 2050 it will affect half the world’s population. Myopia normally develops in children and increases in prevalence and amount during the teenage years. We know that about 30% of teenagers in the UK have myopia, and in some East Asian countries around 80% of teenagers have myopia.

Here are the predictions: 

  • 5 billion myopes by the year 2050; up from 1.4 billion in 2000
  • 1 billion high myopes by 2050; a five-fold increase from 2000
  • Number with vision loss from high myopia to increase seven-fold from 2000 to 2050; myopia to become a leading cause of permanent blindness worldwide.

The impact of these levels of myopia on all areas of society is enormous due to the cost of eye examinations, glasses and treatment of eye disease. The reasons why myopia develops are not fully understood; the prevalence has increased too quickly to be explained solely by genetics.

We know that our visual environment also has a role in myopia development. Our lifestyle has changed significantly over the last 50 years, with greater time being spent indoors on computers, tablets and smartphones. It is the lack of time that children spend outdoors that seems to trigger myopia development.

Globally there are many people actively looking for ways to prevent myopia, or, if it has started, at ways to slow its progression. It has challenged our traditional approach to myopia, test vision and make up stronger glasses as needed. Now we are actively helping people consider alternatives which may help reduce progression, and increasing understanding of this phenomenom.

Here are some resources:

Australian Optometrist Dr Kate Gifford has developed an online tool for families to work out the risk of children becoming myopic - My Kid's Vision

Myopia Prevention is a good overview.

Nature published this great article about the Myopia Boom.

Please contact us if you would like to discuss myopia.