Local News

Near-Sighted Children Can Find Relief With Special 'Eye Retainer'

Posted February 10, 2005

— Last year, WRAL had a story about new specially designed

hard contacts

called Gentle Vision Shaping System. Some near-sighted adults found wearing the "retainers" every night gave them 20/20 vision during the day, but optometrists did not know if they would work as well for children. Now, they know.

Shauney Coppedge, 11, found that having an active childhood and near-sightedness did not mix.

"Glasses were getting in the way and the contacts -- as far as swimming -- she can't wear contacts when she's in the pool," said Caprice Johnson, Shauney's mother.

Now, Shauney wears special hard contacts while she sleeps. They give her close to 20/20 vision during the day. Dr. Patrick O'Dowd takes a special picture of the eye to tailor a set of retainers for each patient.

"The myopia that exists, causing the blur, is now fixed with the overnight wear of the retainers," O'Dowd said.

The retainers gently reshape the cornea to correct myopia or astigmatism. Studies of the therapy only looked at adults, but O'Dowd found even better results with younger patients like Lyndsey and Taylor Locklear. Both of them never wore even soft contacts before, so the retainers took getting used to.

"They are kind of uncomfortable, but you can get used to them. For me, it's not hard to fall asleep," Taylor said.

Taylor learned she had vision problems when she could not see the writing on her classroom blackboard. Now, with the naked eye, things are different.

"I don't have to get up to the front of the room to see anymore," she said.

"I don't have to worry about me breaking my glasses or when my contacts pop out or something," Shauney said.

Since it is a relatively new therapy, most insurance does not cover eye retainers. The average cost is $2,000.

You should see your eye care professional for advice as to whom is a candidate for this procedure.

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