What You Need to Know about Orthokeratology
Ortho-k is a non-invasive method of reshaping your cornea with specialized contact lenses – in order to correct myopia (nearsightedness). The end-goal of orthokeratology is to allow you to see the distance without wearing any glasses or daytime contact lenses. Many nearsightedness people are thrilled to hear about this revolutionary procedure, especially since it doesn’t involve any surgery!
To eliminate any confusion from the start, orthokeratology has many names, yet they all mean the same thing. Whether your friends and family tell you about ortho-k, Vision Shaping Treatment, VST, Corneal Refractive Therapy, CRT, Corneal Molding, Wave Front Corneal Molding, or Gentle Molding, these terms all refer to the same process.
How Does it Work?
Ortho-k involves inserting special hard, gas permeable lenses before you go to sleep each night. While you doze, these lenses will reshape and flatten your cornea gently, thereby correcting refractive error. In the morning, you’ll remove the lenses to find that your myopia is gone! However, the effects of ortho-k are temporary and last only a few days, so you’ll need to wear the lenses nightly to preserve your new crystal-clear vision.
While most people experience some improvement after one night, it can take a few weeks to see the full effects. At the beginning, you may also see halos around lights and night and/or glare, yet these side effects will disappear quickly.
Is Ortho-k for Everyone?
People with healthy eyes and mild to moderate myopia are best suited for ortho-k. In general, this means that you have a lens power less than -4.00 diopters and astigmatism less than -1.50 diopters. As far as age, ortho-k is safe for patients of all ages. So if your child is too young for LASIK, this offers a great alternative!
Some of the most satisfied ortho-k wearers include people who play sports regularly, as well as people who spend a lot of time in dusty environments. With no need to put on bulky eyeglasses or contact lenses that cause irritation, ortho-k is comfortable and convenient for these situations.
However, only a qualified eye doctor can determine if you’re a good candidate for ortho-k. Our San Francisco eye doctors are trained and experienced in fitting ortho-k lenses, and we’ll perform a thorough eye exam to see if they are right for your eyes.
Questions to Ask about Ortho-k
We encourage you to book a consultation with your eye care professionals to discuss ortho-k. It’s important to ask all your questions, such as:
- Am I a good candidate for effective results with ortho-k?
- How often will I need to visit my eye doctor during orthokeratology treatment?
- Is ortho-k the best option for my vision condition?
- How much will ortho-k cost?
- Are there any risks involved with this method?
What Happens During an Ortho-k Fitting?
First, your eye doctor will measure the refraction of your eyes to confirm the degree of myopia, astigmatism or farsightedness. Afterwards, corneal topography will be used to map the shape of your eye surface. This digital imagery procedure is quick and painless, and it will help determine the ideal shape for your cornea. According to the exact specifications needed for your eyes, your optometrist will custom-order specialized ortho-k lenses.
Is Ortho-k for Children Too?
Yes, ortho-k can be great for kids, especially as a means of myopia control. Many studies have shown how ortho-k lenses mold and suppress the cornea, thereby suppressing eye growth. When this happens, kids’ eyes don’t continue deteriorating to a higher degree of myopia.
Why is this a good thing? In addition to eliminating the need to replace your child’s eyeglasses yearly with more powerful lenses, very high nearsightedness in children is also linked to eye health problems later in life. When kids vision prescriptions get worse constantly, it is worthwhile to seriously consider myopia control with ortho-k!
Benefits of Ortho-k
If you are considering this method of vision correction, here’s a summary of what you have to gain:
- Available for most patients
- No need to wear daily eyewear: convenient and comfortable eyesight
- Improved vision (better than with eyeglasses)
- Myopia control for kids: no new eyeglasses yearly, and reduced eye health risks