When soccer mom Linda Sterling attended her son’s games, she was more concerned about the chance of an injury from the ball striking his glasses and hitting him in the eye than she was with cheering from the sidelines.
From the time he was seven, Jayden Sterling, 13, suffered from nearsightedness, or myopia — the most common refractive error of the eye. Increasing in frequency in recent years, myopia usually starts in childhood and gets progressively worse through adolescence. Vision normally stops deteriorating by the late teens but could continue into the mid-20s. If diagnosed with myopia, the earlier one starts treatment, the slower the condition progresses.
When a regular eye examination revealed Jayden’s deteriorating eyesight last year, the Sterlings turned to Dr. Fendt Shearer and his team at LENSES, a full-service optometry practice located on Rosedale Lane, off Mackey Street next to KFC.
“My professional recommendation was a new, non-surgical, vision correction alternative, Corneal Refractive Therapy (CRT),” said Shearer, an optometric physician, whose practice integrates the latest technology in medical eye examinations, making its services more comprehensive and less invasive.
“Contact lenses designed for CRT temporarily corrects or greatly reduces nearsightedness by gently shaping (or flattening) the cornea — the clear, bubbly-like structure on the front of the eye — while the wearer sleeps. CRT is recommended for patients ages five and up.”
A growing number of people, approximately 1.5 million in 49 countries, are turning to the overnight vision correction that reduces refractive errors, that is, when the shape of the eye does not bend light correctly, as is the case of myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism.
Shearer is the first local physician to offer CRT, the therapeutic contact lens approved by the United States agency responsible for ensuring public health and safety, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“My son’s vision is now 20/20,” said Sterling. “No glasses. No complaints. We’re loving it.”
A vision correction alternative for people unsure of Lasik eye surgery who want freedom from glasses or the hassle of wearing contacts during the day, CRT reshapes the cornea without permanently altering its physiology, an important point when one considers the eyes of children and teens who are still maturing.
Best suited for persons who have an active lifestyle, CRT is a perfect fit for athletes, fire fighters, police officers, persons with hazardous occupations, avid scuba divers and the like.
Although wearers experience clear vision while the lenses are in, CRT is for overnight wear only. It should be inserted 30 minutes or less before going to bed and removed within 30 minutes of awakening. Nearsightedness remains corrected or greatly reduced for all or most of the users’ waking hours.
“The best patients are young patients who see the results quickly, in a few nights,” said Shearer. “Most patients experience complete vision correction within one to two weeks.”
Advances in eye care technology means parents have more control over the treatment of their children’s eye condition. They do not need to be concerned about children breaking, losing, or removing their glasses while at school.
“Now that school is out for the summer, it is an ideal time to begin CRT,” said Shearer.
Although clear vision is the main benefit of CRT, for Sterling there were others.
“CRT assists in confidence building when your son or daughter does not have to wear glasses,” she said. “As a parent it alleviates me having to purchase a new pair of glasses every year. When they are involved in sports you end up with two pairs of glasses, one for everyday life and one for the sport.”
Studies suggest wearing lenses such as CRT helps to slow or even stop the progression of nearsightedness, said Shearer. When one stops using CRT, vision reverts to its previous state.