HOUSTON — The University of Houston’s Eye Institute is working to correct nearsightedness in a unique way.

It’s using contact lenses worn while you sleep.

The treatment is particularly effective among children.

“First I open the case,” said 3rd grader Nicole Chen as she prepared to show us her contact lenses. “Then I put it in.”

Chen is a patient in the University of Houston Eye Institute’s Myopia Management Service.

The treatment involves specialty contact lenses worn at night to slow the progression of myopia, more commonly known as nearsightedness.

“Just means that your eyes have grown too long, so things up close are still clear,” said Kathryn Richdale, OD, PhD.  “But objects far away can’t be focused clearly.”

Studies show an increasing number of Americans are myopic, and children are especially susceptible. Many believe that’s because of their attachment to up-close technology, like iPhones.

“We don’t want to blame devices,” Richdale said. “There are genetic and environmental components.”

Patients like Chen put the contacts in before they go to bed and remove them in the morning, so there’s no need to fiddle with them or glasses during the day.

The treatment doesn’t mean kids won’t need glasses when they’re older, but they may not require them as soon.

“I always make it clear to parents we can’t stop, we can’t reverse,” Richdale said. “But we do have methods where we can slow down the progression.”

Things are going “swimmingly” for Chen. She can now see the clock when she gets out of the pool during a meet.

“ Before I wore the lenses, I couldn’t see my time,” Chen said. “And when I wear them, I can see far away and see my time.”

Experts say nearsightedness among adults may be too far progressed for the overnight treatment to be effective.

Find out more about the UH Eye Institute’s Myopia Management Service here.