Orthokeratology involves the use of specialised hard contact lenses worn during sleep to reshape the front surface of the eye. This reduces or eliminates myopia over the course of the next day (or longer).
The aim is to treat nearsightedness without the use of regular contact lenses or eyeglasses throughout the day.
But does it really work?
The science behind Orthokeratology
Optometrists who are experts in Ortho-k prescribe and fit Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP) contact lenses that change the shape of the cornea and also eliminate myopia. These are designed to be worn overnight, and on waking up the next morning are removed from the eyes. The change to the corneal curvature makes the vision clearer and sharper for the following day (and often longer).
Providing a clear focus helps in slowing the progression of myopia in children. Orthokeratology has been in use since the early 21st century, although designs and effectiveness have improved dramatically in the past 5-6 years, making it more accessible for both children and adults.
Compared to glasses or contact lenses, ortho k offers a relaxed approach as well as being generally non-invasive, safe and effective for the eyes. It has been reported to change the lives of thousands of people suffering from myopia.
Live a life without limitations
Yes, it works!
Ortho-k, under the supervision of an experienced optometrist, is very effective at correcting myopia. It has also been clearly shown to slow down or even halt the progression of myopia.
This is a fantastic option for children, that gives them the freedom to lead their daily activities – including sports activities and swimming – without using glasses or contacts. In addition to expanding children’s activities, orthokeratology is a solution to slowing down or even halting the progression of short-sightedness.
The patient is able to spend an entire day without worrying about contact lenses or glasses, while seeing with clear, corrected, and natural vision.
Another huge advantage to orthokeratology is that there is no contact lens discomfort during the day. For those who wear the more common soft contact lenses during waking hours, dry eyes is all too common. In fact dry eyes induced by soft contact lenses is the major reason of failure.
Ophthalmologists have been aware that glass lenses can reshape the cornea in the eye since the 1940s.
The first ever orthokeratology design was created in the 1960s by George Jessen an optometrist. The material at the time was PMMA (Perspex), and it was named as “Orthofocus.” These designs, however, had unpredictable results in the eye.
In the 1990’s, the computer-controlled precision lathes ensured that lenses were manufactured at a sub-micrometer level, and mass production became a viable and accurate option.
The Eye Practice has been prescribing orthokeratology contact lenses for myopia control since 1995.
- The first step prior to Ortho-k fitting is to measure the degree of myopia (short-sightedness) and astigmatism present.
- A digital map of the front surface of the eye, using a corneal topographer is also necessary.
- Your optometrist will order the lenses according to the particular shape of your cornea.
- You / your child (and a supervising parent) will be instructed in the insertion, removal and cleaning of the new contact lenses.
- The initial duration to wear the lenses overnight and return the following day for review.
- If the optometrist is happy with the fit and reduction in myopia, the next step is to wear the lenses nightly for one week and return for review.
- At this stage the lenses may need to be adjusted, or, if working effectively, worn for 1-3 months before further review.
- Depending on the experience of the optometrist with ortho-k and the lens design, it is often possible to get the right lens order first time. It is not unusual though to require a couple of fittings in order to achieve the best possible result.
Pros and Cons of Orthokeratology
- Readily available
- Reversible (just leave the lenses out for a few days)
- Freedom from daytime usage of contact lenses and dry eyes
- Proven method of vision improvement
- Non-permanent: Lenses need to be worn regularly overnight to maintain results
- A number of visits are involved in the initial fitting
- Current treatment corrects myopia very well. Astigmatism and hyperopia can be corrected but less predictably.
- Higher initial cost than regular contacts or glasses but over time if one looks after the lenses can be less expensive.
Are you an ideal candidate?
Children and adults who are best suited to this treatment are those who have myopia less than -4.00 diopters, and astigmatism less than -1.50 diopters.
Orthokeratology is safe for people of all ages and from all walks of life as long as their eyes are healthy.
Higher amounts of myopia (-3 to -4) usually require the lenses to be worn every night, while lower amounts may only require the lenses to be worn every second or third night.
Children, in general, are great Ortho-k wearers.
The security of stopping (or slowing) the advancement of their myopia is a great incentive for all young Ortho-k users.