Imagine putting in a contact lens at night just before bed, removing it in the morning, and then having the ability to see all day without the need for contacts or glasses. This is accomplished through a therapy known as orthokeratology, or more often called Ortho-K.
Very simply put, orthokeratology is a method of molding the cornea to correct visual ametropias (i.e. myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism, etc). The process is analogous to orthodontic and retainer therapy.
Ortho-K has been practiced over the world for longer than LASIK, and has been deemed just as safe as everyday contact lens wear through multiple studies. Retainer gas-permeable lenses are fit carefully to gently reshape the cornea by flattening and steepening the appropriate areas to correct the visual deficiencies while the patient is sleeping. In the morning, the lenses are removed and cleaned, and the patient is able to experience great vision throughout the day without the need for contact lenses or glasses.
The beauty of Ortho-K is that its totally reversible, as opposed to surgical vision correction, so if someone decides that they don't want to continue with the nighttime retainer system, they can simply stop the process and their typical nearsightedness will return within a few weeks.
Probably one of the most sought after reasons for Orthokeratology is myopia control in children. Nearsightedness in kids is increasing in great frequency, and has become the normal for kids in China and other European countries. While there are many reasons why kids become nearsighted, the most well accepted theories are genetics, lack of time spent outdoors, and excessive near work. Considering how much time we all spend on digital devices, and the habits our kids pick up from us, it almost seems destined that our kids will become nearsighted. Fortunately, this isn't always the case, but for many it is. Anyone who is nearsighted can recall how often their glasses prescription changed when they were kids, and how inconvenient it is to replace lenses and frames during such short intervals. With Ortho-K the increase in nearsightedness is greatly diminished.
The true magic of Ortho-K lies in its ability to dramatically slow the progression of myopia in children. The reshaping of the cornea creates a hyperopic retinal defocus pattern which has been shown clinically to remove the stimulus for axial elongation. In short, Ortho-K stops the eyeball from stretching, which is what happens during the progression of myopia. Orthokeratology, and CRT have been FDA approved to treat myopia in ANY age (so long as they are mature enough to handle the lenses), which is wonderful as it allows for us to therapeutically and mechanically do something to proactively slow the worsening of our children's sight.
The disadvantages of being nearsighted extend much further than just blurry distance vision. Nearsighted individuals, even at a mild level, have a higher lifetime risk of developing glaucoma as well as retinal problems such as lattice degeneration (a thinning of the retina which predisposes one to retinal breaks/tears).
Since LASIK isn't approved for children, Ortho-K is a great option for kids. After college, when the eyes typically stabilize and don't change as much, the Ortho-K wearer can discontinue the retainer lenses, and then have LASIK if so desired, as Ortho-K wearers are usually good candidates for laser vision correction. Also, there may be a chance that if you're not a candidate for LASIK or PRK, you might be one for Ortho-K.
Call our office now to schedule an eye exam and see if you're a candidate for Ortho-K!
"I've been going to Maitland Vision Center since the 80s and have always been happy with the great office staff and Dr. Willson. This week I had my first appointment with Dr. Schott who has taken over after Dr. Willson's retirement and I couldn't be happier with the new guy! Looking forward to many more years of great care. (PS: I was disappointed when Dr. Willson phased out his optical (eyeglasses) center some years ago, but was happy to learn that Dr. Schott plans to bring it back.)"