As a mother of three children with varying degrees of myopia, Yanti recalls “It was very stressful to watch all of their vision deteriorate each year,” as she reflected on her first two children’s experiences with glasses. “Their prescription was raised quite high as their vision got worse and they eventually needed glasses with -5.00. I knew I had to do something then,” she continued.
With very sporty and active children, glasses and contact lenses quickly limited all three of them, often drying their eyes out severely during certain seasons and limiting their playtime. After three months of wearing glasses, Yanti was informed her third child Timothy would suffer from myopia at the same rate as his siblings and made the decision to try Ortho-k (also known as Corneal Refractive Therapy).
“I heard about Ortho-k from a friend and was unsure about it at first, not knowing much about what was involved, but eventually considered trying the treatment once Timothy’s vision deteriorated,” Yanti continued.
As a non-surgical procedure, Ortho-k uses special lenses worn at night to therapeutically massage the cornea and allow for clear vision during the waking hours of the day. Providing an effective alternative for glasses and contact lenses, Ortho-k also avoids the associated risks and detriments of laser eye surgery, preventing people from having to partake in potentially harmful operations that require substantial recovery time. As laser eye surgery is particularly inappropriate for children, Yanti found Ortho-k lenses were a very effective alternative.
Following a consultation with Optometrist, Dr Soo Jin Nam, Yanti received “great advice, and regular, quality eye checks that were crucial in making sure all three of my children’s vision improved.”
Timothy and his siblings attended regular check ups and examinations to monitor the improvement of their eyesight and have been fitted with Ortho-k lenses for nearly a year now. Issues of irritation and discomfort previously experienced by the children with contact lenses and glasses have been overcome as Yanti reports her children “really do love their night time lenses”, praising the outcomes of Ortho-k.
Particularly in their formative years, good vision is crucial to children, aiding their ability to learn basic mathematics, comprehension skills and other classroom activities, as well as playing in the playground without the hassle of glasses.
Currently one in five Australian children suffer from vision problems, with up to 31% of school age children now diagnosed wth myopia
Eyecare Kids optometrist, Dr Soo Jin Nam, commented, “Ortho-k allows children to maintain their active and playful lives, without the hassle or harassment wearing glasses sometimes brings. Although glasses are now such a fashion statements with kids and they look so cute, the benefits of Ortho-k in slowing or even stopping the progression of myopia is clearly an important clinical factor we need to consider.”
Dr Soo Jin Nam adds, “Glasses are likely to break or get lost in little hands, and getting a child to wear contact lenses is a bigger battle than making them eat their vegetables. A non-surgical alternative that repairs the issue while they sleep is helping parents everywhere brighten the future for their children.”
“Looking back, I know I made the right decision. With three children using Ortho-k, I am hopeful that my children’s vision will not get worse,” Yanti concluded.
Ortho-k has been shown to have a preventative and corrective effect on childhood myopia and although it has been around for more than 50 years, it’s really over the last 10 years that improvements in the lenses have increased its popularity. Ortho-k is also available for adults.
Optometry Australia recommends that children have a full eye examination with an optometrist before starting school and at least every two years thereafter. Eye examinations usually attract a Medicare rebate and no referral is required.