Abandoning your glasses is not the normal advice from opticians, but it has helped to land Cardiff lad, Louis Cottrell, a place in the national basketball squad.
For Louis, 11, who has been wearing specs since he was seven, sport is a passion, but always hindered by the need for prescription sports goggles. His optician suggested trying a novel overnight form of vision correction, called Ortho-k, with great results –
“Now I can now see perfectly well without my glasses. I play loads of sport and the goggles were really irritating to wear – now I am just like my friends. The trial for the Wales national squad basketball team was a few days after I started using Ortho-k and the vision it gave me really helped – I am so thrilled to have a place in the squad,” said Louis.
He added –
“I was a bit nervous about the lenses but it was so easy to put them in and I always have a good night’s sleep as they don’t irritate. The first time I wore them I could see perfectly well the next day. My basketball and football coaches were really surprised when I didn’t turn up in my goggles. The basketball training takes place all over South Wales but often in Port Talbot and I play for Panthers football in Cardiff too.”
Louis’s optician, Ian Chalmers in Albany Road, suggested the treatment as he believed it would really make a difference to Louis’s life –
“Short-sightedness in children has doubled in the past 50 years and children are becoming short-sighted at a younger age. If youngsters have short-sighted parents, as Louis does, there is an increased likelihood that the child will be affected. We know that short-sightedness can lead to vision problems in later life so it is wise to try to arrest this progression if we can, and this is what Ortho-k seems to do. I believe I have a duty of care to tell patients about the treatment.”
Ortho-k involves wearing tailor-made contact lenses at night which are produced for each patient following topographical maps that are taken of each patient’s cornea. The lenses gently flatten the cornea – by less than half a hair’s width – providing good vision for the day ahead.
“It seems that by correcting the vision each night this slows the progression of short-sightedness – much like wearing braces on the teeth. We are keen to see this treatment become more widespread as it is fully reversible, does not involve surgery and can have very positive results for the future vision of children. It is not just children who are turning to Ortho-k, but plenty of sporty adults too,” added Ian.