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Perfect vision without contact lenses?

October 5, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
About 25 percent of people in the U.S. live with nearsightedness, which is trouble seeing objects at a distance. It typically starts in childhood and vision gradually gets worse as kids grow. Now optometrists are testing contact lenses worn only at night to improve vision during the day. Isabella Jorgenson, 12, loves to be in front of the lens, but being nearsighted turned her early modeling career into a blur.

"That tree, the plants and the grass turns into one big blur," said Isabella.

She tried contacts, but the maintenance was too much for the pre-teen to handle. Then her mom heard about a study testing contacts that are worn only at night.

Kids wear the cornea reshaping contacts while they sleep. Optometrists say that when they take them out in the morning their vision is temporarily corrected.

Regular contacts are curved, while cornea reshaping contacts look like a plateau.

"They are flat in the center and steeper on the sides," said optometrist Dr. Ron Davis.

It gently flattens the center of the eye during the night, changing the shape of the cornea.

Before wearing the contacts a nearsighted eye is steep. After the contacts are worn the eye flattens out.

"It is similar to wearing a watch or a ring. When you take the ring or watch off there is a little indentation," said Dr. Davis.

In a study of 300 kids, those with the reshaping lenses maintained their vision after the first year. The kids who wore regular contacts needed a stronger prescription.

"I'm really not talking about permanent correcting, but what I am talking about is reducing the progression," said Dr. Davis.

For Isabella it means 20/20 vision during the day without contacts or glasses.

The cornea reshaping lenses are already FDA approved for adults. Now doctors are collecting data to find out if they can stop the progression of nearsightedness in kids.

They carry the same risks as regular contact lenses, which are infection and eye irritation.

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