Imagine waking up each morning with clear vision without the need for corrective lenses. Imagine playing your favourite sport without spectacles getting in the way. Imagine performing your daily tasks without worrying about dry itchy eyes caused by your contact lenses.
For the majority of us who have stepped foot into an optometric practice and left with a pair of spectacles or contact lenses, this idea sounds far-fetched. But what if this could be a reality, your reality with orthokeratology.
#1 What is orthokeratology?
Orthokeratology or Ortho-K lenses can be thought of as a removable vision retainer that is worn only while you sleep. These lenses are removed the next day providing you with good vision without the need for spectacles or contact lenses during the day. It is a safe treatment that is suitable for children particularly for myopia control as well as adults of all ages. It is also a great alternative to refractive surgery.
#2 How does orthokeratology work?
Orthokeratology works by changing the shape of the cornea (the transparent layer that covers the front part of the eye). This change is reversible, meaning that if you stop wearing the ortho-K lenses, the shape of your eye and vision will return back to its original state.
Treatment time does vary between individual and generally takes between one to four weeks. You may require temporary spectacle wear or disposable contact lens during this process. However, be patient, all good things take time. Once treatment is stabilised, you can expect to be rewarded with vision that may last for up to one or two days without the need for any correction.
For the correction of myopia, the lenses have been designed in such a way that it flattens the central cornea while steepening the mid-peripheral cornea. This unique design has been scientifically shown to be effective in slowing down the progression of myopia by up to 50% in children and has been an increasingly popular myopia control option in recent years (1).
#3 How safe is orthokeratology?
You may have heard the common phrase “Do not wear your contact lenses to sleep”. Well with ortho-K, it is acceptable for you to dismiss this. For the treatment of ortho-K to come into effect, the lenses must be worn while sleeping. Quite contradictory isn’t it? The question you are probably wondering now is whether it is safe to do so.
It is important to understand that any form of contact lens wear carries a risk of infection but cases of infections are rare and often associated with a poorly fitted lens or poor hygiene regime such as the use of tap water to clean lenses.
A fairly recent research conducted on 1317 patients who wore overnight corneal reshaping contact lenses made up of roughly half adults and half children showed only the occurrence of two microbial eye infections. Both incidence occurred in children but resulted in no visual loss (2).
In general, with good hygiene practice and regular appointments advised by your optometrist, orthokeratology is a reasonably safe treatment and the risk of microbial infection is low.
#4 Who can benefit from orthokeratology?
1. Those who are physically active particularly those who participate in contact or water sport
2. Those who desire to be free from spectacles and contact lens wear during the day
3. Those who have industrial jobs or works in a dusty environment
4. Those who are afraid or not qualified for refractive surgery
5. Children who are myopic or have progressive myopia
6. Those who suffers from dry eyes or allergies
#5 What do other patients say about Ortho-K?
A number of our patients at Martin & Lobb Eyecare have had this procedure. Here are a few of their comments:
“My 10 year old daughter has found that the prospect of being able to put in a pair of contact lenses before she goes to bed, and sleep while wearing them, and then have clear vision when you remove the lenses in the morning is hugely appealing/ability to see clearly without the need for wearing glasses while at school or sports has made it worthwhile.“
“It’s really great that I don’t have to wear glasses during the day and it far outweighs the hassle of putting them on at night. I’ve had mine now for 3 months and it’s definitely easier to put on. I’m so impressed with my eyesight during the day and I would definitely recommend it. Our optometrist has been so supportive during this whole process”
“My daughter is very happy with the outcome so far. It has only been a month or so but her vision improved right away. She loves not needing her glasses during the day and has been amazed at how well she can see without them and how long it lasts (all day). We are really happy that we chose this strategy for her eye health rather than just sticking with glasses and needing to change the lenses frequently.”
#6 How do I get started?
Not everyone is suited for orthokeratology. The best way to determine if you are a good candidate would be to book in for a full eye examination with us. Our optometrist will carefully assess your baseline prescription, eye health, corneal shape, lifestyle and visual requirements to ensure that the treatment is right for you.
To find out more regarding the cost and fitting appointments of orthokeratology offered at Martin and Lobb Eyecare, get in touch with our team.
1. Cho P et al. The longitudinal orthokeratology research in children (LORIC) in Hong Kong: a pilot study on refractive changes and myopic control. Curr Eye Res. 2005
2. Bullimore et al. The Incidence of Microbial Keratitis with Overnight Corneal Reshaping Lenses. OptomVis Sci. 2013
Article written by Cassandra Ang, optometrist at Martin & Lobb Eyecare