I have to confess, I’m no swimmer – I just don’t seem to have the coordination or whatever it takes to achieve that effortless grace in the pool (think hippo swimming, that’s more me.) My daughter, Arianne, on the other hand loves to swim and spends plenty of time in the water.

At ten years old she is just starting to become short sighted. This is no surprise as both myself and my wife are myopic. She has a pair of glasses and has taken well to wearing contact lenses but, there is a problem………..

The Independent – The Eye Feasting Parasite That Can Get In Through Your Contact Lenses

The Daily Mail – Mother Of Two Nearly Blinded Swimming Pool Wearing Contact Lenses

Away from the lurid headlines this piece by Moorfields, the leading eye hospital, is more measured:

https://www.moorfields.nhs.uk/condition/acanthamoeba-keratitis

To sum up – acanthamoeba is real, nasty, and you don’t want to catch it. You can think of it like a tiny cell which feeds on bacteria. It lives in soil as well as water and normally doesn’t cause us any problems at all. It does like to stick to things, though, such as contact lenses. And contact lens wear increases the risk of tiny scratches to the surface of the cornea. Acanthamoeba stuck to the lens surface gets into the eye through these scratches and hey presto – you’ve got an incredibly painful eye infection which can blind you. Unfortunately, it is also very resistant to treatment.

Incidentally, this is why contact lenses must never be stored overnight in water or used when cleaning the lenses.

The solution?

So, how are you supposed to see when you’re bobbing around or blasting up and down the lanes? Glasses are no good and you can’t wear contact lenses. Prescription swimming goggles can be very successful and there are some excellent ones available. There are three drawbacks that I can see:

  1. You can’t see when you lift the goggles away from your eyes, You have to wear them all the time you’re at the pool.
  2. They only correct part of the spectacle prescription, not the astigmatism component. Further, the optical centres of the lenses are not in the right places
  3. If it’s for a child, they aren’t very careful, I don’t think that Arianne is unusual in the number of goggles that she gets through – lost, scratched, left at school and so on. It can get a little expensive.

I believe the perfect solution is orthokeratology where you wear a special moulding lens overnight. This gently alters the refractive power of the cornea while you sleep. In the morning you remove the moulding lenses and have clear vision all day without the need for specs or contact lenses.

We have a semi-professional footballer and a boxer amongst many others using ortho-k with great results. For adults it gives a safe, reversible alternative to laser refractive surgery. For children who are just becoming short sighted there is an extra benefit – it has also been shown to be one of the most effective forms of myopia control. Children using ortho-k either stop becoming more short-sighted or their prescriptions increase far less than they would if they were just using glasses or normal contacts. That’s a subject for another blog!

Arianne’s prescription is just about to reach the minimum where I can fit her with ortho-k, she’s looking forwards to trying it!

There is more information on ortho-k on our website https://www.bellamyeyecare.co.uk/ortho-k/  or, better still, call us on 0116 2531750 and we would be happy to discuss it with you.