Imagine going to bed and then waking up to perfect 20/20 vision.
Aasma DAY talks with a Lancashire medic who has benefited from a revolutionary technique to treat short-sightedness
Fumbling around first thing in the morning or during the night for your specs so you can see is a familiar scenario for anyone who is shortsighted.
Dr Simon Vaughan, 50, who lives in New Longton, near Preston, spent years wearing glasses and contact lenses but then started encountering problems.
Simon, a consultant in anaesthesia and intensive care at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, explains: “I started wearing glasses at the age of 17 when I was doing my A-levels and discovered I was shortsighted.
“I started wearing contact lenses around the age of 20 and they opened up a whole new world.
“But a year ago, my eyes were watering a lot, felt dry and were uncomfortable.
“It was frustrating, I often had to resort to wearing glasses which I didn’t really enjoy.”
The married dad had always believed that surgery was the only way he would wake up to perfect vision – until his optician suggested a treatment called Ortho-k.
Simon’s optometrist, Drew Thompson at G.R. Hardwick in Lytham, suggested the problem of dry eyes could be solved by not wearing contact lenses during the day, but at night with them doing their work as Simon slept.
Simon says: “I was prepared to give it a go and was interested in the science, but thought it would not be easy. I have an astigmatism as well as -2.50 dioptres of myopia.”
Simon went to the optometrist and had specialist corneal maps taken with a topographer – images which reveal some 80,000 reference points of the shape of the eye.
The images were emailed to a laboratory in Sussex where the specialist tailor-made Ortho-k lenses were manufactured specifically to correct Simon’s vision.
These were designed to gently flatten his cornea – by less than a hair’s width, to provide the very best of vision.
Simon says: “The overnight lenses sit on the eye and they effectively remould your eye during the night.
“The first night was quite painful as the lenses felt uncomfortable and as though I had grit in my eye.
“The next morning, I had to go to get my eyes checked and my prescription had changed from -2.5 to -1 overnight.
“The results have been amazing – I put these lenses in at night just as I go to bed and take them out when I get up.
“After the first few nights I got used to sleeping in them and now I have great near and far vision.
“I have normal vision in my right eye and my left eye is slightly under corrected so I do not need to wear reading glasses. It also corrected my astigmatism.
“It took about two weeks to fully correct my vision. In between, I bridged my vision with weaker contact lenses.
“I now wear the lenses every night and can see perfectly during the day without glasses and contact lenses.
“I don’t notice them at all when I sleep and the only glasses I have worn since using these lenses since June are sunglasses.
“The problems associated with daily lenses and the drying air flow in the operating theatre and of wearing masks with glasses, are now something of the past.
“It is so brilliant to be able to see properly without glasses or lenses during the day.”
As well as making life better for him at work, Simon has found his vision correction has also enhanced his leisure time.
He says: “Going out at night without glasses is very liberating and at the weekend I can go mountain biking and not worry about mud flicking up in my eyes, or losing lenses.
“Swimming is a lot more fun with the kids as I don’t have to worry about getting my contact lenses wet in the pool.
“I just want to tell everyone about these night-time lenses as they have made such a difference to my life.”
Drew Thompson, Simon’s optometrist, says: “We use Ortho-k with a wide range of patients including those who suffer dry eyes and others who don’t want to worry about lenses and glasses when they are sailing or playing sport.”
Many of Drew’s Ortho-k patients are children as there is a great advantage to leaving them free of their lenses and glasses all day and with parental supervision of lens care.
Added to this, is evidence that daily correction of myopia - by repositioning the cornea – dramatically reduces the progression of myopia, particularly in developing children.
Drew says: “I mention the myopia control aspect to everyone. I have an obligation to give patients all the facts and let them make the decisions.
“People need an informed choice and we certainly pride ourselves on being at the forefront of optical technology.”