New figures have revealed that 11,715 teenagers in Northamptonshire are short-sighted – with the threat of a ‘eye health epidemic’ looming large.

Nationally, one in five teenagers are short-sighted – double the number affected 50 years ago. Experts have warned this figure is likely to grow significantly in the next 30 years, serving as a ‘ticking timebomb’ to the nation’s eye health.

Short-sightedness, also known as myopia, can lead to an increased risk of several eye conditions such as myopic maculopathy that could eventually result in visual impairment or even blindness.

A Northampton optometrist is now set to pioneer the use of a revolutionary contact lens proven to halt the progression of short-sightedness as part of a ground-breaking programme which has seen it become a regional centre of excellence for myopia management.

Tompkins, Knight & Son Optometrists in Kingsley Road, Northampton will become one of only 15 practices in the UK to offer the CooperVision MiSight contact lens – an innovative lens which is the first licensed product to slow myopia.

This will be used alongside a suite of other state-of-the-art methods such as ortho-keratology to manage myopia in both children and adults, with the practice now a national leader in the long-term treatment of short-sightedness.

Owner Brian Tompkins is the president of the British Contact Lens Association and one of the country’s leading contact lens practitioners.

He said: “Myopia is becoming a global epidemic, with the potential for half the world’s population to be affected by 2050. That is a ticking timebomb for eye health. We need to act now to help future generations.

“Children as young as three or four can be affected, and their chances of being short-sighted are significantly increased if either parent has myopia. If we can spot the signs early we can help prevent more serious issues further down the line.

“By combining the latest lens technology with other factors such as increased outdoor play to get the benefits of increased Vitamin D levels and spending less time looking at digital screens we can now help slow the rate of progression by up to 50 per cent, meaning people will be able to see better for longer.

“Myopia will always happen, but we can manage it better. The MiSight contact lens is an exciting breakthrough in the world of myopia management and we are delighted to be involved at such an early stage.

“By having this available, alongside existing methods such as Ortho-K, it could revolutionise the way we handle short-sightedness in young patients, it has the potential to change lives and have long-lasting impact.

“If you or your partner are short-sighted then we are keen to see your children as soon as possible to see how we can help improve their long-term vision and eye health.”

Research has revealed an increase in the number of children growing up in urban areas who develop short-sightedness. While glasses and soft contact lenses can correct the condition, until now, they have been unable to slow its rate of progression.

A CooperVision spokesman said: “Our Myopia Management System is a holistic approach to minimising the progression of myopia by combining MiSight contact lenses with ActivControl™ Technology and strategies for better eye health.”

Wearers of the lens can expect to cut myopic progression, providing better vision when not wearing contact lenses and reducing their chances of developing high levels of myopia which may lower the incidence of eye diseases associated with shortsightedness, such as retinal detachment and glaucoma.

Nick Dash of myopiacare.org – an online resource hub for eye care professionals – said: “No longer is it appropriate to just chase short-sightedness in children. We now have proven tools to control and manage childhood short-sightedness.”

An online calculator which uses the latest research to estimate the risk of developing myopia is available at https://myopia.care/index

For more information about short-sightedness call 01604 714413 or visit www.tks-optometrists.co.uk

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