What is orthokeratology?
Orthokeratology (ortho-k for short) is a revolutionary non-surgical procedure that eliminates the need for glasses or daytime contact lenses. Specially designed therapeutic contact lenses improve your vision by reshaping your cornea while you sleep. Just put in the specially designed lenses at bedtime, and in the morning you will have clear, sharp, natural vision. This treatment is a safe alternative to LASIK for those who don’t want the risk or are not ready for eye surgery.
How does it work?
The eye functions like a camera. The front part (the cornea) is like the camera lens; the back (retina) is like the film. We need glasses or contact lenses when the cornea fails to focus light on the retina. Orthokeratology can fix this problem.
Orthokeratology gently reshapes the cornea, thereby changing the focal point of the eye. This eliminates the need for glasses or daytime contact lenses.
In order to create a therapeutic lens, a high tech instrument called a corneal topographer creates a mathematical model of your eye. This allows your doctor to create a custom orthokeratology lens designed specifically for your eyes. The lens is manufactured using high-speed computer assited lathes and made from an advanced highly oxygen permeable material which allows your eye to breathe overnight and maintain excellent health.
While you sleep, the tear film beneath the ortho-k lens continuously flows across the corneal surface, resculpting the shape. This improved shape focuses images directly on the retina. The result is crisp, clear vision upon waking and removing your lenses.
Is it known by other names?
Orthokeratology is also known as Ortho-K; Corneal Refractive Therapy (CRT); Vision Shaping Technology (VST); Accelerated orthokeratology (AOK); Gentle Vision Shaping System (GVSS); Gentle Molding; or Overnight Corneal Reshaping (OCR). These procedures may differ slightly in the technique, but all are subtypes of orthokeratology.
How long does it take?
Excellent vision is typically achieved within just a few days, although the exact speed depends on your initial prescription. During the first few days of the orthokeratology process, you may wear temporary soft contact lenses until excellent vision is achieved.
Is it safe?
Orthokeratology is a very safe and reversible procedure. It was approved by the FDA in 2002. However, as with any contact lens wear, there is a small risk, most typically a minor infection easily addressed by antibiotic drops. This risk is greatly minimized by carefully cleaning and disinfecting the lenses, and maintaining the necessary progress visits.
Am I a candidate?
This depends on a number of factors, including your current prescription, corneal shape, and overall ocular health. In general, people with nearsightedness (myopia) and/or astigmatism are better candidates than those who are farsighted. The best way to determine whether you are a candidate is to ask us at your next visit!
Orthokeratology and kids
Orthokeratology can be a very effective form of vision correction for children. Many active kids have a hard time keeping up with eyeglasses. Others have trouble with daytime contact lenses (for example, contact lenses generally should not be worn while swimming). Orthokeratology allows kids to live an active lifestyle without keeping up with eyeglasses or daytime contacts.
However, there is another major benefit for kids and teenagers: myopia progression control (MPC). The rate of myopia (nearsightedness) has skyrocketed over the past 25 years. More kids are being diagnosed with myopia, and the prescriptions are getting stronger. Eye doctors have been aware of this trend for decades, and the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently labeled progressive myopia as a public health epidemic. Why? Nearsightedness causes more than just blurry vision. It also increases the risk of vision threatening conditions like retinal detachments and glaucoma.
Studies have shown that orthokeratology can slow myopia. Numerous published studies have documented that children wearing ortho-k lenses experience little to no myopic progression during treatment.
Children do great with orthokeratology. They are highly motivated and fast learners. Since the lenses are inserted just before bed, the mild lens sensation disappears quickly as the eyes are closed for sleep. Kids love the freedom from eyeglasses, and you have the security of knowing that you are protecting their future sight.