Ortho-K

Do you wear glasses or contact lenses for nearsightedness or myopia?  Are you tired of having blurred vision?  Are you concerned about the risks involved in surgical correction of myopia such as LASIK or PRK?  Or is laser refractive surgery too expensive?  Do you think you would enjoy having excellent vision without glasses, daytime contacts or surgery?  Orthokeratology might be a good option for you.

Orthokeratology, or Ortho-K as it is commonly known, is an FDA approved method that can reverse myopia or nearsightedness.  With the Ortho-K treatment, you wear specially designed highly oxygen permeable contact lenses while sleeping only.  In the morning, after removing the lenses, your vision is corrected generally to 20/20 levels or better.  The effect lasts all day and occasionally several days depending on your prescription and other factors.  The lenses are somewhat like retainers used after braces, and are worn every night to maintain your vision improvement.  Ortho-K has many potential advantages for correcting your vision:

  • Ortho-K is FDA-approved as safe and effective for all ages.
  • Ortho-K is reversible, unlike surgery.
  • Ortho-K allows for clear vision without having to wear contacts during the day.
  • If you can’t wear contact lenses because of dry eyes and discomfort, you may still be an Ortho-K candidate.
  • Ortho-K may help slow down the gradual worsening of myopia.
  • If you have myopia and presbyopia (difficulty seeing close after age 40), Ortho-K has some unique advantages.

FDA-Approved

Although Orthokeratology has been performed for about 40 years by specialists in their individual practices, there weren’t any big contact lens companies that sought FDA approval for any particular design.  That changed about ten years ago and there are a number of lens designs and Ortho-K fitting systems that have undergone rigorous clinical testing and have received FDA approval.  Essentially, FDA approval means that these companies and lens designers are able to make certain statements about their lenses and systems related to the type of results that can be expected by patients using their lenses.

Ortho-K is Reversible

One of the disadvantages of Ortho-K is that it is not permanent in that the retainer lenses need to be worn every night or most every night in order to maintain the improved vision.  LASIK, on the other hand is a one time treatment whose effects are permanent.  There are times when people might want to either restore their previous vision, in order to improve reading vision after age forty for example and Ortho-K would allow for this, while after undergoing LASIK for myopia, it is no simple matter to reverse the effect and would require additional surgery.

Sleep in Lenses, See Clearly the Next Day

In the early forms of Ortho-K, vision was improved very gradually with a series of lenses worn during the day in an attempt to improve vision after removal of lenses.  The big disadvantage of this older approach is that the treatment lenses and the retainer lenses had to be worn full-time during the day.  Modern or advanced forms of Ortho-K allow for overnight treatment with good vision during the day.  If you know how to sleep, you may be a candidate for Ortho-K.  Zombies and patients attempting to outsmart the invasion of the body snatchers by not sleeping are not good candidates for Ortho-K.

People with Dry Eyes May be Good Candidates for Ortho-K

Most patients with dry eyes are not the best candidates for contact lens wear, though there are some new contact lens materials that improve comfort for dry eye patients.  People with dry eyes also face challenges with refractive surgery such as LASIK and PRK.  Because Ortho-K involves sleeping in gas permeable lenses, and there is no lens wear during the day, patients with dry eyes are still good candidates for Ortho-K.

Ortho-K May Slow Down the Progression of Myopia

Emerging research is beginning to show that children that undergo Ortho-K treatment experience about 50% less gradual worsening of myopia than children wearing either conventional contact lenses or glasses.  This can be a little confusing in that nearsighted children that opt for Ortho-K will usually see 20/20 consistently, but if they are gradually worsening in their true myopia (hidden by the Ortho-K treatment) it may not be obvious since the treatment lenses reverse the myopia.  In order to prove that Ortho-K actually slows the gradual progression of myopia, a study would have to involve wearing Ortho-K lenses and standard RGP lenses for 3-5 years and then at the end of those years, the children would have to stop wearing the lenses for several months and their prescription changes would have to be compared.  It would be essential to also measure the lengths of the eyes as that is the measurement that most consistently changes with myopia progression.  That study has not been done as yet, but early results are promising.  For a treatment proven to dramatically reduce myopia progression in children and adults see Dr. Aller’s other webpages describing his groundbreaking research at www.draller.com or www.stopmyopianow.com.

Ortho-K May Have Some Unique Advantages After Age 40

People under age 40 often think there are no advantages to nearsightedness.  Nearsightedness or myopia means in fact that the eyes focus near images better than far images.  After age 40, presbyopia causes the eyes to have increasing difficulty focusing near images, thus the need for reading glasses and bifocals.  Ortho-K has some potential benefits after age 40 in two different ways.  As a reversible technique, it is possible to reverse the treatment a little bit to aid reading, it can be done in one eye or both, and it can be done gradually over the years as the eyes need more help to read.  Ortho-K reshapes the cornea in a little bit variable way such that the cornea sometimes has bifocal properties, making near vision a little better than might be predicted when the distance vision is clear.  This isn’t as easy to accomplish or predict, but it is a potentially nice feature of Ortho-K.