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10 Crazy Things Contacts Can Do

        Health | Eye

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Halt the Progression of Nearsightedness in Children
Orthokeratology may be able to slow vision degeneration. © VStock LLC/Thinkstock
Orthokeratology may be able to slow vision degeneration. © VStock LLC/Thinkstock

There are three basic types of contact lenses: hard lenses (developed in the 1940s, and now pretty much obsolete), soft lenses (introduced in the 1970s, and the most popular style worn today) and, since the late-1980s, rigid gas permeables (GP contacts). Fewer than 10 percent of all new contact lens wearers choose GPs, but their popularity is growing. And, as it turns out, they may do more than correct your vision; they may also help correct myopia, or at least slow its progression.

Myopia (nearsightedness, which is when objects at a distance appear blurry) is a vision problem that affects as many as 30 percent of Americans; it happens when your eyeball is too long (oval-shaped) in relation to your eye's cornea and lens. It commonly begins in childhood and usually continues to progress through adolescence; and, while the research isn't complete, the rate of its progression may be slowed with GP contact lenses. GPs show promise in arresting myopia's development in 8- to 12-year-old patients who wear the lenses to correct the problem. How? Orthokeratology, a method that uses specially-designed GP lenses worn at night to reshape the wearer's cornea. It's a temporary change, but one that's effective about 30 percent of the time [source: Family EyeCare Center].