We have been able to experience GVSS as both parents and optometrists. Our 8 year-old daughter, Katelin, has inherited her daddy’s eyes. She had a complete exam in April of 2015 and her vision was 20/20. In December of 2015, she was in the office again one day after school and on a whim, we checked her again. This time, she was 20/60 in her right eye and 20/30 in her left eye. She had not told us that she was having any trouble seeing at school and she had not been squinting. Katelin was a great example of how children do not usually complain about their vision. Most of the things they do involve close up vision and since they don’t drive, they don’t have to read road signs so they often don’t notice changes. Since Katelin saw better out of her left eye, she was probably using that eye to see most of the time. This would be affecting her depth perception without us realizing it. Katelin was nearsighted in both eyes with her right eye being more nearsighted. It is important for both eyes to correct equally in children so they do not develop amblyopia or a “lazy eye.”
Myopia or nearsightedness is hereditary. We suspected Katelin might become nearsighted since myopia runs in our family on both sides. The younger a child is found to be nearsighted, usually means the gene is stronger and they will get progressively more and more nearsighted as they grow.
As children grow, their eyes also grow and change. Just like they need larger shoes from one year to the next year, children who are myopic or nearsighted need stronger glasses as they grow each year.
Since Katelin’s father is so nearsighted, we knew Katelin would also get more nearsighted as she grew. Since she was only 8 years old when she was found to be myopic, we knew she had a fairly strong nearsighted gene.
We had two choices to treat Katelin’s myopia or nearsightedness. We could fit her in daytime glasses or contacts and watch her prescription get stronger and stronger each year or we could fit her in specially designed contacts that gently reshape her eye as she sleeps to prevent her prescription from getting stronger and stronger each year. This process is called GVSS which stands for Gentle Vision Shaping System. Dr. Barbara Marcussen has been doing GVSS since 2004. She has witnessed how well it has slowed down the progression of myopia in children during all these years. So it was a very easy decision as parents for Dr. Harald Vaher and Dr. Barbara Marcussen to have their own daughter, Katelin, undergo GVSS.
Katelin did not want to wear glasses so she was happy with the decision to do GVSS herself. The process involved Katelin looking into a machine which took a topography, or mapping, of 11,000 points on her cornea, which is the front of her eye. From there, her mother, Dr. Marcussen, designed a custom-made contact lens to slowly and gently reshape her cornea as she sleeps.
The contact lens is large and sits on the conjunctiva, which is the white part of the eye, so it is quite comfortable. Katelin had never worn contacts before, but she was able to have the contacts put in and slept in them the first night without any irritation or discomfort. Her mother put the contacts in for her since she was only 8 years old. Katelin noticed she could see great out of the contacts.
The next morning, the contacts were removed and Katelin saw great. She noticed a few things around the house which looked clearer, like the clock on the wall. She had no complaints before doing GVSS, but now that she could see better, she noticed several things were clearer. Children rarely complain about their vision being poor because they do not have anything to compare it to. Now that Katelin had clearer vision the next morning, she could appreciate the difference in her vision.
Katelin now wears the contacts at night only and sees clearly all day. She has her mother put them in right before bed and they are removed when she wakes up in the morning. She now has 20/20 vision in both eyes without any glasses or contacts during her day. She can go to school, the swimming pool, or dance without worrying about glasses or contacts.
The best part for her parents is knowing that her eyes aren’t going to get as bad as fast as they would if we had not done GVSS (Gentle Vision Shaping System) for her.
Since high myopia or nearsightedness is a risk factor for retinal problems and other diseases like glaucoma, we have felt good as parents knowing we are doing what we can to slow down her progression of myopia with GVSS.
Katelin just knows she can see great without glasses!