Understanding Orthokeratology: A Revolution in Vision Correction
Orthokeratology, often referred to as “ortho-k,” is a non-surgical procedure using specially designed contact lenses to gently reshape the curvature of the cornea (transparent refractive surface of eye) to improve vision. This unique method, offering a convenient alternative to glasses and traditional contact lenses, has brought about a paradigm shift in the field of eye care.
What is Orthokeratology?
Orthokeratology originates from the Greek words: ‘ortho’ meaning to straighten or correct, and ‘kerato,’ referring to the cornea. Essentially, the procedure involves wearing gas-permeable lenses overnight, which reshape your cornea while you sleep. When the lenses are removed in the morning, patients can typically enjoy clear vision throughout the day without the need for glasses or daytime contacts.
Ortho-k lenses are worn at night while the patient sleeps. The lenses gently apply pressure to the cornea, which causes the cornea to change shape. This change in shape improves vision by focusing light more accurately on the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye.
The effects of ortho-k are temporary, and the lenses must be worn every night to maintain the desired vision correction. However, many people find that they can eventually wear the lenses less often, or even stop wearing them altogether for few days or even weeks with long lasting improved vision.
Orthokeratology in Myopia Management
Myopia, or nearsightedness, is a common vision condition where close objects appear clear, but distant objects are blurry. The prevalence of myopia is rising rapidly worldwide, particularly among children.
Ortho-k is a highly effective strategy in myopia management. It not only corrects myopia by reshaping the cornea but also slows the progression of myopia in children. Various studies have demonstrated that orthokeratology can reduce the progression of myopia in children by about 50%.
Benefits of Ortho-K
Ortho-k presents multiple benefits over traditional vision correction methods.
1. Daytime Freedom: Since the treatment takes place overnight, there’s no need for glasses or contact lenses during the day, providing greater comfort and convenience.
2. Non-Invasive Solution: Ortho-k provides a non-invasive solution for correcting vision, making it a safer option for many patients.
3. Slows Down Myopia Progression: As mentioned earlier, orthokeratology can significantly slow down the progression of myopia in children, reducing the risk of developing severe myopia later in life.
4. Ideal for Sports: Athletes, especially those involved in water and contact sports, can benefit significantly as there’s no need to worry about losing or damaging glasses or contact lenses.
Who Can Use Ortho-K?
Ortho-k is suitable for individuals of almost any age, especially those with mild to moderate myopia. It’s particularly beneficial for children and young adults whose myopia is still progressing.
However, ortho-k may not be suitable for everyone. Certain conditions, such as large pupils, and high degrees of astigmatism, might limit its effectiveness. A thorough examination and consultation with an optometrist and ophthalmologist can help determine if ortho-k is a suitable option.
Orthokeratology presents an innovative, safe, and effective option for correcting myopia and managing its progression. While it may not be suitable for everyone, for those who are good candidates, ortho-k can provide freedom from daytime eyewear, slow down myopia progression, and offer a non-invasive solution for vision correction. Always consult with your eye care professional to discuss the best vision correction options tailored to your needs.