What is Orthokeratology?
Orthokeratology (also known as Ortho-K) may sound dramatic but it’s quite simple. Like orthodontics and orthopaedics, the ortho in orthokeratology means correction. Orthodontics corrects teeth. Orthokeratology corrects the cornea: the front surface of the eye.
Ortho-K are lenses worn only while the patient sleeps to reduce eye growth and to provide temporary visual relief. Once the patient wakes up, they can take out their lenses and have clear vision for the entirety of the day without the need of glasses. This optical therapy is effective in both short-term and long-term treatment of myopia (short-sightedness), hyperopia (far-sightedness), presbyopia and astigmatism (blurred vision), as the lenses significantly slow the progression of these eye conditions whilst simultaneously providing temporary visual relief to the patient.
This is a fantastic alternative for people who don’t want to wear contact lenses or spectacles during the day, and would rather avoid eye surgery.
Ortho-K is ideal for those with mild to moderate myopia (with/without mild astigmatism). Ortho-K lenses have proven to be successful in slowing down or possibly even stopping myopic progression entirely.
How does it work?
The lenses are commonly referred to as Corneal Reshaping Treatment, as the lenses gently reshape the highly elastic cornea through a flattening effect. This reduces further eye growth, therefore slowing the progression of these eye conditions. The flattening effect is what provides temporary visual relief, which generally lasts for the waking hours (~16hrs). Improvements in vision can usually be seen the very next day, with the effect stabilizing after approximately one week. Through the continuation of this routine, seamless clear vision can be maintained.
The individual lenses are designed to mold the front surface of your eye as you wear them overnight. The process uses the forces of the tear fluid beneath the lens to reshape the cornea to the lens design. For the treatment of myopia, the lens produces a flatter central cornea and steepens the peripheral cornea, correcting nearsightedness by decreasing the power of the eye. For hyperopia and presbyopia, the reverse geometry design of the contact lens steepens the central cornea and flattens the peripheral cornea, correcting long-sightedness by increasing the power of the eye.
The Ortho-K patient, once successfully fitted, is then free from wearing glasses or conventional contact lenses during the day.
Are Ortho-K lenses comfortable?
Ortho-K lenses are surprisingly comfortable, with most people commenting that they forget they have lenses in after the first week. It is an ideal solution for those who are sensitive to air conditioning with regular daytime contact lenses and those who wish to play sport freely.
Is it safe?
The Corneal Reshaping effect from the lenses is temporary, and only takes effect whilst the patient is maintaining consistent use of the lenses, meaning there is little risk involved. As the lenses do not make permanent changes to your eyes, your eyes will revert to their former state within one to four weeks if you stop wearing the lenses. You can stop wearing the lenses at any time in favour of glasses or regular contacts.
The risks of wearing ortho-K lenses are no higher than any other contacts. Of course, proper care is important to minimise the risk of allergies and bacterial infections from poor hygiene.
Additionally, David Shanahan Optometrists utilises custom-designed Ortho-K lenses from Innovative Contacts, made from highly oxygen permeable materials, to maximize the ocular health of your eyes. David also completed additional training to grant him with the certifications to fit Orthokeratology contact lenses to his patients.
Who can benefit from Ortho-K?
Ortho-K is suitable for those who are unable to wear contact lenses, such as those involved in contact sports or who work in dusty environments.
Children and young adults who do not want to wear glasses, but are too young for LASIK or unsuitable for refractive surgery due to dry eye, are also ideal candidates.
You must have a healthy cornea that is free of disease to wear Ortho-K lenses. This criterion is the same as for potential candidates for laser surgeries such as LASIK.
Do you think Ortho-K could benefit your eyesight?
Book an eye appointment with David to find out.
Early preventative check-ups can detect potential eye problems. A visit to your optometrist every six months ensures that your prescription is correct.
To book an appointment with David, call us on (08) 9335 2602 or book online here.