Are you tired of wearing glasses or contact lenses every day? Have you ever heard of Orthokeratology, also known as Ortho K? This non-surgical vision correction method has gained popularity in recent years, especially for people with myopia or near-sightedness. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the basics of Orthokeratology, its benefits, how it works, and the potential side effects. By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of Ortho K and whether it might be the right choice for you or your loved ones.
What is Orthokeratology?
Orthokeratology, or Ortho K, is a non-surgical vision correction method that involves wearing specially designed gas permeable contact lenses overnight. These lenses temporarily reshape the cornea, the clear front surface of the eye, to correct refractive errors such as myopia (near-sightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism. The primary goal of Ortho K is to provide clear, functional vision during the day without the need for glasses or contact lenses.
Benefits of Ortho K
- Non-surgical: Ortho K is a non-invasive alternative to laser eye surgery, making it an attractive option for those who are not suitable candidates for surgery or are hesitant to undergo a surgical procedure.
- Reversible: The corneal reshaping effects of Ortho K are temporary, meaning that if you stop wearing the lenses, your cornea will return to its original shape, and your vision will revert to its previous state.
- Suitable for active lifestyles: Ortho K allows for clear vision during the day without the need for glasses or contact lenses, making it ideal for those with active lifestyles or who participate in sports.
- Myopia control: Ortho K has been shown to slow down the progression of myopia in children, reducing the risk of developing severe myopia and associated eye health complications later in life.
How Does Ortho K Work?
Ortho K lenses are custom designed for each patient based on their unique corneal topography, which is a map of the eye’s surface. These lenses apply gentle pressure to the cornea, causing it to flatten and change shape. This reshaping corrects the refractive error by allowing light to focus correctly on the retina, resulting in clear vision.
This process is known as corneal reshaping or corneal refractive therapy (CRT). The effects of Ortho K are temporary, and the cornea will gradually return to its original shape if the lenses are not worn consistently. This is why Ortho K lenses must be worn every night to maintain clear vision during the day.
Who is a Good Candidate for Ortho K?
Ortho K is suitable for individuals with mild to moderate myopia (up to -6.00 diopters), hyperopia (up to +2.00 diopters), and astigmatism (up to -1.75 diopters). It is also an excellent option for those who are not suitable candidates for laser eye surgery or prefer a non-surgical vision correction method.
Children and teenagers with progressive myopia can also benefit from Ortho K as a myopia control strategy, potentially reducing the risk of severe myopia and associated eye health complications later in life.
Ortho K Lenses and Fitting Process
Ortho K lenses are made from a highly oxygen-permeable material, allowing the eye to “breathe” while the lenses are worn overnight. The lenses are larger than typical contact lenses and have a unique design that ensures they remain centered on the eye during sleep.
The fitting process for Ortho K lenses involves several steps:
- Comprehensive eye examination: Your eye care professional will perform a thorough eye exam to determine your prescription and assess the overall health of your eyes.
- Corneal topography: A detailed map of your eye’s surface will be obtained using a corneal topographer, which helps your eye care professional design the custom Ortho K lenses.
- Lens fitting: Once your lenses have been manufactured, your eye care professional will ensure they fit correctly and provide instructions on how to insert, remove, and care for the lenses.
- Follow-up appointments: Regular follow-up appointments are essential to monitor the progress of your Ortho K treatment and ensure the lenses are functioning correctly.
Ortho K Treatment Timeline
The timeline for Ortho K treatment varies depending on the individual and the severity of their refractive error. Most patients will notice an improvement in their vision within the first few days of wearing Ortho K lenses, with optimal results typically achieved within two weeks to a month. Regular follow-up appointments are essential to monitor progress and make any necessary adjustments to the lenses.
Potential Side Effects and Risks of Ortho K
Ortho K is generally considered safe and well-tolerated. However, as with any contact lens use, there are potential risks and side effects, including:
- Discomfort or irritation: Some patients may experience initial discomfort or irritation while adjusting to the Ortho K lenses.
- Halos or glare: Some patients may notice halos or glare around lights, particularly during the initial stages of treatment.
- Infection: As with any contact lens use, there is a risk of infection. Proper lens care and hygiene are crucial to minimize this risk.
Ortho K for Myopia Control in Children
Ortho K has been shown to slow down the progression of myopia in children, making it an effective myopia control strategy. By wearing Ortho K lenses overnight, the cornea’s reshaping can reduce the axial elongation of the eye, which is associated with myopia progression. This can help reduce the risk of developing severe myopia and associated eye health complications later in life, such as retinal detachment, glaucoma, and cataracts.
Cost of Ortho K Treatment
The cost of Ortho K treatment can vary depending on factors such as the complexity of the prescription, the type of lenses used, and the location of the eye care professional. Ortho K treatment typically includes the cost of the lenses, fitting fees, and follow-up appointments. It is essential to discuss the costs associated with Ortho K treatment with your eye care professional to determine if it is the right choice for you.
Orthokeratology, or Ortho K, is a non-surgical vision correction method that can provide clear, functional vision during the day without the need for glasses or contact lenses. It is an attractive option for those with mild to moderate refractive errors and those seeking a non-invasive alternative to laser eye surgery. Ortho K has also been shown to be effective in controlling the progression of myopia in children, making it a valuable tool in preserving long-term eye health. If you are considering Ortho K, consult your eye care professional to determine if you are a suitable candidate and to discuss the potential benefits, risks, and costs associated with this treatment.