Wearing special contact lenses at night could mean no glasses for nearsighted children

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- For anyone wearing glasses, you know it can be a hassle at times. But a relatively new option for children is being offered here in Houston, which could eliminate the need for glasses.

Joaquin Martinez, 12, was diagnosed with nearsightedness a couple of years ago, which means he cannot see objects far away unless he's wearing glasses.

"About 25 percent of the population was nearsighted about a few decades ago, and now it's over 40 percent," said Dr. Kathryn Richdale with the University of Houston Eye Clinic.

She says these rising statistics may be attributed to extended device usage that our society has become accustomed to.

And like most kids his age, Joaquin wasn't a fan of glasses.

"(I) kind of didn't like wearing them because they were always slipping off my nose," Joaquin said.

But that changed after he started using a different type of contact lens.

"He uses one called Orthokeratology. That's also known as corneal reshaping, and so children wear it overnight, and it corrects their vision," Richdale said.

At bedtime, Joaquin places the contact lenses in and sleeps with them during the night. In the morning, he takes them out and he's able to see clearly throughout the day, without the need for glasses.

"But what it does in addition to just correcting nearsightedness, is that it slows down the progression of nearsightedness over time," Richdale added.

Now adults can use them too, however, it will not slow down their progression. The lenses are not covered by insurance because they're still in clinical trials.

"The FDA hasn't recognized myopia control or myopia management as a treatment," Richdale said. "To their standard of care is tell to put children in a pair of glasses. But we know that keeping them in glasses year after year is just going to increase their amount of nearsightedness."

Ophthalmology researchers are hoping that changes soon.
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