Marc & Steven
Because we felt this is such an important topic for a few of you, we have really gone to town here. John & Marie were kind enough to give us an incredibly full set of answers, not pulling any punches about what it was like. Marc also sent us some content and to cap it off – we interviewed them on camera so you can see and hear what they have to say. We hope this is a massive help to anyone thinking about putting lenses on their youngsters.
A huge, huge thank you to the Burns family for going to so much effort for us all x
In this section:
- The live chat we did with the family. This is an absolute must-watch for anyone considering fitting their children under 10 with night lenses. As you’ll see from the interview, yes, a few teething problems with Steven the 5 year old, which took a couple of weeks to iron out with help from their Optometrist. After that, plain sailing. As for Marc, aged 7 at the time, no issues from day 1.
- The parent view, from John and Marie
- Marc’s thoughts, 10 years on, his view of night lenses as a child and as an active teenager
NIGHT LENSES & ME | MARC, WHO STARTED WEARING THEM AGED 7
When I was about seven years old I was prescribed glasses and wore them in the classroom so that I could see the whiteboard. It soon was obvious that I needed to wear glasses all the time to see anything clearly.
I felt very self-conscious whenever I wore glasses as I was the only child in my class who needed to do so. My parents spoke to my optician about prescribing contact lenses, but he said he wouldn’t prescribe lenses to someone so young and that I would have to wait until I was at least twelve. We approached another optician who did prescribe soft contact lenses. However, I found them very difficult to put in and take out. Very fortunately, my granny had read a newspaper article about night lenses and passed the details to my dad. He in turn discussed the situation with Scott Brown, his optician. Thankfully, unlike the other two opticians, he was very much aware of the development of night lenses and of their potentially transformational benefits, especially for children.
Night lenses changed my life. I have progressed through the rough and tumble of my school years, without having the inconvenience and stigma of wearing glasses. As far as sports are concerned, I played boys’ club football and also became a black belt in taekwondo when I was 16 years old. When I was younger, I had learned to swim and, as with my skiing and snowboarding in my early to mid teens, it was great to be able to see everything clearly. I am very interested in music and enjoy playing acoustic, electric and bass guitars. I also enjoy going to the gym and going for long walks with our dog. Presently, I am in the final weeks of my secondary school and in a few months will be going to Strathclyde University to study Law and Economics. I will be delighted to continue to wear night lenses for as long as I can.
Steven, who is now fifteen years old, only wore glasses for a very short time. He really can’t even remember wearing them. He was five when Scott prescribed night lenses. Our parents used to put them in for him and take them out in the morning for the first year or so. Initially, this proved anything but straightforward, with a lot of stress on both sides. Scott was very helpful and with his guidance and a bit of patience, Steven eventually mastered the technique of inputting and removing his lenses by himself. It very soon became part of his night-time routine. Steven has played football from a very early age, indeed has excelled both for his school and club teams, winning numerous awards. He fully appreciates that wearing glasses would have made it much more difficult for him. Steven also likes going to the gym and enjoys running. He plays the drums to a good standard and relaxes by playing FIFA games online with his friends.
Would I recommend night lenses to other children and teenagers? Absolutely!
NIGHT LENSES & US | MARC AND STEVEN’S PARENTS, JOHN AND MARIE
Why did you choose night lenses for Marc & Steven over spectacles or daytime contact lenses?
Night lenses seemed to offer our sons the possibility of a “normal” childhood, untroubled by the frustrations inherent in either of the traditional methods of countering short-sightedness. I (Dad) had known how inhibiting wearing glasses had been as a young boy, in particular feeling disadvantaged participating in sports and also vulnerable in the rough-and-tumble of play. Children can also be cruel in terms of name‐calling, I do not want their childhood memories tainted by “unfashionable” spectacles – a minor point we know.
More importantly, I (Dad) had also experienced the negatives associated with contact lenses which I had worn since age fourteen. For example, the discomfort in windy conditions and the dryness which restricted the amount of time the lenses (both hard and soft) could be worn. Night lenses also offered the opportunity of the boys wearing lenses at a younger age than standard lenses, as we (the parents) could put these lenses in and take them out, without waiting for the boys to develop the requisite manual dexterity. The probability of the lenses being lost was also much reduced, as they would never be taken away from the home, other than family holidays. Hygiene issues could also be better controlled and monitored.
Swimming does not now carry the fear of lenses being washed away. Both boys did wear prescription swimming goggles but these are not suitable for water-flumes and are not permitted for diving during the coaching lessons both receive. Golf, as another sporting example, is also acknowledged to be much easier with lenses than with spectacles as anyone who has ever played in rainy conditions will testify. Standard lenses, however, are not without problems, as wind, dust and hay fever can all be major inconveniences. Both our sons play golf.
Did you try specs or standard contact lenses prior to night lenses?
Yes, the first optician the boys attended prescribed spectacles for both boys. We were determined to explore whether there was any possibility of daytime contact lenses being suitable for our sons at the earliest possible age. The first optician did not give the impression that he was in any way inclined to consider contact lenses for any child below the age of twelve. He seemed very dismissive and his sales staff re-iterated that view with comments like “once their eyes settle down”. At that point, we decided to undertake our own basic research on the internet which seemed to indicate that there was a body of professional ophthalmic opinion which assessed children much younger than twelve to be suitable for lenses. Indeed, there was an indication that lenses may be a better option than spectacles for young children to counter short‐sightedness. At that date, we were not aware of the night lens variant. We then decided to take our older son, Marc, to another local optician, one who was listed on a site which indicated he would be prepared to prescribe contact lenses to children. Marcwas indeed prescribed soft contact lenses on a trial basis, i.e. he was given lenses to become accustomed to them and once he was able to insert and take‐out on his own, he would be given his own lenses on a permanent basis. Marc only attended this second optician for a single consultation. It became all too evident very quickly that he was going to struggle to become confident in handling soft contact lenses. The sense of frustration for both Marc and us was palpable.
The boys Gran, however, brought a newspaper article to our attention which was our first insight into the development of night lenses. This article highlighted the fact that children may be able to wear these new lenses and also that there was some evidence from recent medical studies that wearing these lenses could slow the deterioration of sight. Both I (Dad) and my twin brother had experienced this gradual increase in short‐sightedness from initially wearing glasses at age four, through to our current ‐11 prescription.
Very soon thereafter, I (Dad) decided to seek the advice of my own optician. I had become a lapsed contact lens wearer and had worn glasses almost exclusively for around eighteen months. At this consultation I was very impressed both with the opticians up to date knowledge and also the optical analytical technology (topographer) used in the practice. I mentioned my sons short-sightedness, particularly Marc’s, and was hugely encouraged by the comprehensive and informative summary provided. Specifically, I recall the various advantages and disadvantages of differing lens types for children. This included reference to soft contact lenses being very “fiddly” and that a child of Marc’s age (then seven years of age) could struggle with them. The optician also explained the concept of night lenses and gave a very similar account to that of the newspaper article. I was then determined to pursue night lenses for Marc and arranged an appointment. Fortunately, Marc proved to be a suitable candidate for a night lens prescription and has reaped the benefits ever since.
In the months immediately prior to his wearing night lenses, Marc’s vision was such that he should probably have worn his glasses all the time, but in fact he only wore glasses in the classroom and for distance vision, e.g. at the cinema. At home, however, Marc had been edging closer and closer to the screen when watching television, moving onto the floor to do so. He had also started to wear his glasses to read the music clearly when playing his guitar. As his prescription was less strong, Steven was only wearing his glasses in the classroom and cinema, although he did say that he needed his glasses too for the swing-park and various play activities.
Did you need to encourage Marc and Steven into wearing contact lenses? If so how did you do this?
If not why do you think they were keen to wear contact lenses instead of glasses?
Marc and Steven were both keen to try night lenses.
Marc had experienced soft contact lenses and was both disappointed and frustrated that he hadn’t been able to put them in for himself. In the few days trial period, however, he had experienced the benefits of proper vision for the first time during his sports classes, football and tae-kwon-do. Steven was also keen because of Marc’s positive experience in that he (Marc) didn’t need to wear his glasses anymore. In fact, a brief initial period in which we were able to get Steven’s lenses in and out, albeit with some difficulty, was followed by a time when his resistance was too great and we simply could not continue with lenses. Steven’s disappointment was all too evident as he realised that his vision was now deteriorating and reverting to being “fuzzy”. He desperately wanted to be able to reap the benefits of the lenses but his fear was too great and he was unable to open his eyes wide enough.
How easy did you find the fitting process of the night lenses?
Marc adapted very readily and within a short period of time he was able to put them in and take them out with consummate ease. He has had to be reminded of the importance of hygiene and we suspect that the occasional issue of the lenses being sore is due to soap not being fully rinsed away.
For Steven, it was always going to be more difficult due to the fact that he was only five and had to rely on his parents inserting and removing the lens. Please also refer to the previous answer which narrates the severe problems we encountered in the early days. Surprisingly, this determined resistance did not begin straight away, but took hold after a period of around two weeks of relative success. Steven was given his lenses at the start of June but by the time of his appointment at the end of June, he was so tense that it was impossible for anyone to insert the lenses for him. The days before this had been extremely fraught for all the family. Work appointments in early morning were missed as parents desperately tried everything in their power to persuade Steven to co‐operate. Nightly sessions of trying to insert the lenses were dreaded and became a prolonged battle of wills. We also tried inserting the lenses when Steven was asleep. This worked a couple of times but then Steven grew hyper-sensitive to even the stealthiest approach. Many times, it was only in the early hours of the morning that “success” was attained. Only for the whole sorry saga to re-commence when we woke up! We all knew that this could not continue. In truth, we had all reached breaking-point. The optician advised that we should take a break of at least one week and cautioned that, should Steven’s abject terror and steadfast resistance persist, it may be another six months before there would be merit in trying again.
How quickly / easily did Marc and Steven adapt to the night lenses?
Marc was fantastic. He inserted and removed the lenses by himself more or less from day one. Steven was a much harder nut to crack (please see previous answer).
What difficulties did you encounter?
As described above, we found severe difficulty in both inserting the lenses into Steven’s eyes and also taking them out. Indeed, his resistance became progressively stronger to the point that we could no longer continue. His trust had to be built up from scratch. We took the advice given by our optician i.e. have a week long break from the lenses and encourage Steven to touch the white part of his eye and allow others to touch the white part of his eyes. I (Mum) also allowed Steven to touch the white part of my eye. We (Mum and Steven) also practiced the technique for opening the eye, checking that Steven could not blink (this had been explained by the optician at the last appointment and this enhanced technique would prove to be invaluable). I (Mum) also allowed Steven to practice on me. Steven had relaxed a lot and was keen to try again. I (Mum) kept explaining if he didn’t open his eye wide enough we would not get them in or out. We decided to start the process during the school holidays when there wasn’t the same time pressure to insert the lenses, so that he would be in bed at a reasonable hour and there wouldn’t be the same stresses to remove them in the morning before attending school. I (Mum) explained to him that there was no pressure to get them in and that we would work together at his pace. I (Mum) allowed him to practice with the lenses but it became apparent that he wasn’t going to be able to put them in for himself. Half-way through the first week of the holidays we had managed to get them in and keep them in for about 15 minutes or so. Then we tried to get them out which was tricky to start with as I was also nervous. Gradually there was mutual trust and Steven was keen to keep them in overnight. Within a week, Steven allowed me to put them in for him and he kept them in overnight and I removed them with the sucker in the morning. He was delighted. We are now on consecutive day 57, Steven’s confidence has grown and I can honestly say we haven’t looked back. Steven has now started to take them out by himself in the morning. I hold his eye for him and he uses the sucker. When the time is right we will work towards him inserting them by himself.
What was easier than you expected/easier than specs or standard contacts?
Marc : He had found soft contact lenses impossible to master, albeit over a short time frame. With night lenses, he quickly grasped the technique which his optician had communicated very patiently to him. His optician had advised Marc not to copy his Dad’s method which apparently was fundamentally flawed! This seemed to act as an additional spur for Marc to learn the proper technique and get one up on his Dad!
Steven: After the overwhelmingly positive experience with Marc, it was disappointing and frustrating in the extreme that it seemed, for a time, that we were not going to be able to access the considerable benefits of night lenses for Stevenv. It was certainly not for the want of trying. Obviously, Steven had not yet reached the point of being independent with his lenses. He has managed, however, to take his lenses out four times with his eyelids being held. In fact, he took his right lens out once without assistance. There may have been some good fortune in that achievement though. It should be remembered that Steven is newly six years old, his birthday being only a couple of weeks ago.
Did you notice any behavior changes as Marc and Steven’s vision improved?
Marc is now noticeably more confident in sporting activities than before. His improved vision has made a tremendous difference to his ability to play football, with the result that he is now enjoying himself and is keen to take part. Previously, we were all too aware that he was very much a reluctant participant.
Steven has also said how much better he can see the ball at football and is delighted that he is now able to play his best. Steven has shown sporting talent at both golf and football and the night lenses are giving him the opportunity to compete with his peers on a level footing.
Both boys have commented on being able to see things clearly now that they couldn’t before, simple things that we take for granted, such as reading road signs, leaves on the trees, birds in the sky, numbers of buses, their friends in the playground.
Now Marc and Steven are successfully fitted what advantages do you think the night lenses have over standard dayime lenses?
The process now forms part of their daily bed time/morning routine and is neither problematic nor time consuming. There are no worries about losing lenses at school, or away from the home. Cinema/theatre/school/guitar lessons etc., we don’t need to have a final check to know if we have the boys’ glasses with us before leaving the house. One less thing for the boys to remember to bring home from school! There are no issues with removing and inserting the lenses during the day at inconvenient times and locations, e.g. grit in the eye causing irritation. Nor is there a need to carry glasses as permanent replacements. For swimming, with standard lenses the boys would still have needed to remove contacts and wear prescription goggles.
Night lenses may reduce the amount of short-sight that Marc and Steven may develop. How important was this as a factor when you chose night lenses over specs or standard daytime lenses?
We considered that the potential reduction of the degree of shortsightedness was very much an added bonus. The other benefits of night lenses had already convinced us that these were the optimum solution at this point in the boys’ lives.
Would you still choose night lenses as a preferred optical correction if the potential to reduce short sight wasn’t there?
If you were a suitable candidate would you now consider night lenses for yourself?
Would you recommend night lenses to other people or families?
Yes, without question and have already done so. Marc and Steven’s twelve year old cousin, Elizabeth, has been wearing night lenses for several months and has also said that they have changed her life for the better. In fact, Marc himself took the initiative in this and told Elizabeth all about his super new lenses and how she maybe needn’t have to wear glasses again. At this key stage in a young girl’s life, the boost to her self‐esteem and confidence from not wearing glasses cannot be under-estimated. We have also told many of our friends and colleagues, many of whom simply marvel in amazement. No‐one we had spoken to about these night lenses had been aware of their existence, far less their suitability for young children and their potential to slow the advance of short-sightedness.
Please add any comments or thoughts you, Marc or Steven would like to make on night lenses?
We could not be more delighted with the transformation in our young sons lives brought about by night lenses. It simply is a dream come true. We are also tremendously grateful to the optician for his professionalism, expertise and patience.