The daughter reads a lot and extensively. It is impossible for her to get by a day without reading her novels. When we found out that she was myopic at the age of 9 with a power of 200 degrees for both eyes, I was upset with ourselves for not taking better care of her eyes.
We nagged and reminded her, but her reading habits just don't change. It is insane when she brags about being myopic due to reading, and not screen time *facepalm*. Oh well, this is Singapore where being myopic is prevalent. Truth is, there's no cure, it can only be slowed down by managing the progression of myopia. Children with high myopia face a greater risk of developing other eye conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts and retinal detachment at an earlier age in adulthood. All of them can lead to blindness.
We know it is some significant issue we are talking about now.
A year on from wearing glasses, Jazz is at the power of 300 degrees for both eyes. We took the first step to one of the options of myopia management, Orthokeratology (Ortho-K) treatment. I heard of its existence in recent years, but has never given it a thorough thought because we are talking about children and lenses! How well are these little hands able to handle them, and how safe is it for their eyes? It was not without worry before embarking on this journey and decision.
Ortho-K are gas permeable contact lenses that are worn at night to sleep and will gently reshape the cornea to temporarily correct short-sightedness. Myopia occurs when the eyeball elongates. Ortho-k contact lenses apply pressure to the cornea, flatten it and reshape the cornea overnight. The next day, Jazz has an unassisted clear vision that lasts for one full day. After which the cornea returns to its natural shape. It takes some time for the reshaping and adjusting of her cornea from the first night of wear before clear vision kicks in. Within a week, she was able to achieve vision just like when she was wearing her glasses. More precisely, on her 4th day.
The Assessment and fitting
While we were very much sold by the benefits and convenience of Ortho-K, not every candidate is a good fit for it. A series of assessments needs to be done. Jazz had hers assessed at Videre Eyecare, where she received a comprehensive check of her vision health, eye measurements and eye abnormalities. Videre has a wide array of technology and advanced diagnostic equipment for eye examinations. The lenses were customised based on the topographical map of her eye. After these assessments, we waited about 1.5 weeks for the made-to-order lenses to be ready.
Assess vision health
These were some necessary tests that were needed to before she can be considered a good candidate for Ortho-K. She was! But, there was a 'but'. Her vision may still not be 6/6 even after being on these lenses. Her pupil size is large and there will be an uncorrected of power of 25 degrees. I don't know how to explain much on its technicality, but we felt that it was not a considerable problem. I appreciated this piece of information being given to us upfront before we decided to commit. Some perfectionists may decide against the idea of proceeding.
For your information, those with astigmatism are eligible for Ortho-K too.
Measuring the length of the eye
The Hold Back
It was a new routine for Jazz who will have to put on her hard lenses nightly before sleep and remove them the first thing when she awakes. Honestly, it was a hassle to have these included in her routine, but the freedom of being glasses-free during the day impelled her so much. She does rhythmic gymnastics actively, and this brought her immense convenience during training and school hours. She is today, convinced that all that hassle is worth it.
Putting on Ortho-K lenses was a challenge for her, as a first-timer. It took her three nights to finally be able to put them on like a seasoned user. I was only by her side for the first two nights, after which she was on her own, taking good care of the lenses. I must credit Videre team of optometrists for patiently guiding and encouraging her through the process. There was even a detailed step-by-step instruction printed out for her.
Assembling her accessories
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Rest days are also introduced after the first few weeks of usage. For now, Jazz's eyes get to take a day of sabbath every 2 weeks. After which, she can take a day off every week to rest. The incentive day, we call it.
The follow up
Jazz collected her Ortho-K lenses on a Friday evening where she was aided to put the lenses on. She went home with the lenses, and it was the earliest night for her to call it a day. It was not easy, and it was so uncomfortable that her only relief was when she shut her eyes and went to sleep.
Removing the lenses
Checking of eye health
How long do the lenses last?
The initial pair of lenses cost the most. It cost $2200 for Jazz's first pair of lenses. At the date of publishing, they range from about $2200 to $2800, depending on how complicated the eye issues are. Subsequent pairs will be at about 65% of the price of the initial pair. It may not be sound affordable, but the convenience it brings outweighs the cost. There is so much joy being free from glasses. The daughter testifies that.
Videre at Forum
Various machines for tests
Huge shop space
These being said, always encourage our kids to cultivate good reading and screen habits. Head outdoor frequently to play! Preventing myyopia totally may be an impossible task, but delaying it or keeping it in check is definitely achievable.
And yes, she is one happy girl being freed from glasses!
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By Karen Chen