Innovative contact lenses help children with short-sightedness
Although scientists do not exactly understand why, children and teenagers in developed countries like the UK are more likely to develop myopia (or short sightedness) than children in less well-developed countries. Short sightedness is a very common eye condition that causes distant objects, like a school whiteboard, to appear blurred, while close objects on a child’s desk or their mobile phone screen can still be seen clearly. It's thought to affect up to 1 in 3 people in the UK and is becoming more common.
The cause may be due to the length of time children spend studying. Some data suggests the problem increases in countries where formal schooling starts early in life and increases again at the time when older students enter University study. Whatever the cause, if left uncorrected, short-sightedness can lead to more complex eye sight issues later in life, including retinal detachment and glaucoma. This means it’s important that children and young people have regular eye tests to detect short-sightedness, which can then be helped. Opticians have usually relied on correcting short-sightedness with prescription glasses or very occasionally by using prescription contact lenses.
“Many young people don’t want to wear glasses in front of their friends and peers” says Helen Tilley, optometrist at Monnow Eyecare, “which sometimes mean they don’t wear them at school or when socialising. For others, needing glasses to take part in sports activities is enough to put them off taking part, especially for increasingly style conscious teens”.
The practice has recently found a solution to this problem by offering patients a new, innovative type of contact lens. MiSight® contact lenses are specifically designed for teens and older primary school children with myopia. These specialised contact lenses have been purposely developed to prevent the short-sighted condition getting worse as they have a special zone which prevents the shape of the eye changing. They’re very comfortable, ‘soft’ lenses, which can be worn for longer periods of time, and they reduce the incidence of more serious eye conditions later in life.
It’s important to get your child an eye test before they start school and then on a regular basis (every 2 years) as they grow up, because developing short sightedness can occur gradually and the child or teenager may not notice a sudden change and ask for help. If a child does report a change in their eyesight, arrange a test immediately and, if they have an existing eye condition, the optometrist may recommend more frequent testing. For children under 16, eye tests are free on the NHS, and remain free for 17 – 19 year olds if they are in full time education.
It’s easy to arrange a test for your child at Monnow Eyecare and all the optometrists are qualified to test children as young as toddlers. You can phone the practice on 01600 715 299, come in and arrange an appointment with the receptionist in person or book online here