Friday, March 27, 2009

Orthokeratology to treat myopia

PENN LAIRD - Dae'Quan Scott wears a pair of contact lenses that don't look like regular contact lenses. They're grayish with tints of green and blue colored in concentric rectangles around his pupils.

For generations parents have watched their children's eye glasses grow thicker and thicker every year and have wondered what they could have done to prevent or treat the nearsightedness that has affected their children's eyes.

First it is important to understand what is and causes nearsightedness. Nearsightedness is a focusing defect caused by eyes that have too much focusing power for their length. The eyeball is too long and light rays coming from a distant object come into focus before reaching the retina. With nearsightedness, as a child grows so do their eyes, and their nearsightedness becomes worse.

Children with nearsightedness may complain of headaches, eyestrain and fatigue from trying to see something that is too far away. You may notice your child squinting, turning their head sideways, or just sitting closer to the TV to see it more clearly. If you notice any of these traits, take your child to an optometrist to have their eyes checked.

Approximately 40% of the population has nearsightedness or will develop it at some point in their lives. Usually nearsightedness will begin to appear between the ages of eight and twelve and will increase during the teen years leveling off at about age 25. Nearsightedness can occur at any age though. Approximately 5% of children are born with nearsightedness and the condition has been known to start with adults as late in age as 80.

Nearsightedness in children is determined both by a recessive trait inherited from the child's parents and the manner in which individuals use their eyes when performing detailed close-up work. In cases where nearsightedness is inherited the condition is impossible to prevent although treatable.

Children should have their eyes checked every year as often they themselves are unaware of how distant objects should look. There are a number of ways to treat nearsightedness including the wearing of eye glasses or contacts as well as orthokeratology. Eye exercises are of no benefit in treating nearsightedness since they can not alter the size or shape of the eye.

Until recently the traditional treatment for nearsightedness was eyeglasses. Although glasses do not affect the progression of nearsightedness, they do help individuals see more clearly. Since children are growing and their nearsightedness increasing, it is not uncommon for a child to need new glasses several times a year. For glasses, impact resistant lenses are required by law and polycarbonate plastic, the best possible protection against eye injuries, is recommended for all children.

A more advanced treatment for progressive nearsightedness is orthokeratology. Orthokeratology uses computer designed vision retainers to reshape the front surface of the eye to slow down or stop advancing nearsightedness in children and teens. While similar to contact lenses, the vision retainers are worn only at nighttime during sleep. They are then removed upon awakening to provide clear vision without using glasses or contact lenses.

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