Ortho-k corneal reshaping lenses, which are also believed to have potential benefits for myopia control, have been highlighted through news coverage on ITV.
Highlighting the plight of 11-year-old Isabella who began struggling at school as a result of deteriorating sight, the youngster was prescribed Ortho-k lenses.
“I was looking at the board to copy down the date and time in my exercise books at school and I noticed that it was getting harder and harder to make out what it was,” Isabella told ITV’s Sarah Saunders, adding that she did not want to wear “extra strength” spectacles for the rest of her life.
Being fitted with Ortho-k contact lenses is reported to have potentially helped stop Isabella’s vision deteriorating further as well as providing her with clear vision and no spectacle wear during the day. Optometrist and Kent practice owner, Neil Donnelly, explained to ITV: “What Ortho-k does is gives us another tool that enables us to correct vision so that children don’t have to wear glasses or contact lenses during the day.”
A number of recent international studies suggest the technique can also halt or slow the development of myopia. Published in Optometry and Vision Science in 2015, data analysis of 435 children by researchers in China found that, while the axial length of the eye increased as myopic children got older, those who used Ortho-k contact lenses experienced slower growth during a two-year period than those who wore traditional spectacles or contact lenses.
Speaking about Ortho-k, optometrist Charles Babumba, commenting on behalf of the AOP, said: “It’s not suitable for everyone and we have to be careful about who we choose and who we recommend it to, but for those who are suitable, it works very well.”
Responding to whether enough research has been done on the long-term impact for children, Mr Babumba added: “We can’t generalise and say they are suitable for all children. Studies are being done and are ongoing, but we still need a large population children-focused study.”
AOP professional adviser, Geoff Roberson, added: “In addition to eliminating the need for some people to wear glasses during the daytime, there is some evidence emerging to suggest that Ortho-k can also help slow down short-sighted progression in children. As an emerging technology, this potential benefit needs much more research but it looks like there are possibilities for some children.”