<strong>Q: I was surprised to learn that my 9-year-old daughter needs glasses, because she had made no complaints to me, but even more when my eye doctor recommended contact lenses to slow the progression of her nearsightedness. Is this new? And how effective?<\/strong>\r\n\r\nA: First, your surprise is no surprise to us. Children commonly develop blurry vision, but perceive their vision to be \u201cnormal\u201d and so raise no concerns to mom or dad. Correcting her blurry vision is essential, whether it is with glasses or contact lenses.\r\n\r\nSecond, there is a virtual \u201cepidemic\u201d of nearsightedness around the world, as children spend more time focusing on their digital devices \u2014 tablets, laptops and smartphones \u2014 and developing more myopia faster than ever. While this trend is most evident in Asian children, it is true for all children and teenagers.\r\n\r\nFinally, studies now show that specialized contact lenses to reshape, and hold, the corneal contour can dramatically slow or stop nearsightedness progression. This technique, called \u201cortho-keratology\u201d reminds many parents of \u201cortho-dontics,\u201d in that we prescribe lenses to reshape the front surface of the eyes, a bit like realigning pediatric teeth. This is very different from regular contacts in two ways: These are more rigid than conventional soft contacts, and they are worn only overnight while sleeping, never during the daytime.\r\n\r\nGenerally, we prescribe \u201cortho-k\u201d lenses for children age 8 and up, but the most appropriate age depends on other factors as well \u2014 the degree of nearsightedness, the shape of the cornea, and even the thickness of the cornea. Talk to your eye doctor about these considerations to see if ortho-k is right for your daughter. Prevention of severe nearsightedness not only can avoid those thick glasses most people dislike, but can also offer a lifetime of less dependence on glasses in general.\r\n\r\nDR. THOMAS STOUT, OD, FAAO is an eye physician in private practice at Morgantown Eye Associates. Info: MorgantownEye.com.