What is Orthokeratology?

Orthokeratology — or ortho-K — has been in the news again lately!  It’s a special treatment that has a patient wear a gas permeable contact lens overnight in an effort to slowly reshape the cornea to help improve the patient’s vision even after the lens is removed.

The idea is that in some patients ortho-K can reduce nearsightedness and eventually provide a non-surgical alternative to a surgery like LASIK.

How Does it Work?

In a patient who is nearsighted, the front part of the eye (the cornea) is too steep. So, by using the less pliable gas permeable contact lens, this part is reshaped in an effort to correct the steepness and allow more light in.

In some ways, Ortho-K is kind of like wearing a retainer at night to fix your teeth.  The reshaping impact of orthokeratology doesn’t last permanently, but it may work well enough to allow a patient to skip wearing their normal vision correcting glasses or contact lenses for a day or more.

Usually, patients who try ortho-k treatments can start to see results within a week or two.  Many patients see their vision improve to 20/40 while following the prescribed regiment or wearing the lenses during the night and then going without prescription lenses during they day.  Some patients even see improvement up to 20/20 vision.

Who Can Use Orthokeratology?

Most people who are nearsighted up to a -5.00 or -6.00 (depending on the brand of therapeutic lenses available) are candidates for ortho-k.  Some people with astigmatism may also qualify.  But, research shows that people with no astigmatism and less than a -4.00 diopter in each eye have the best results from the treatment.

Some studies just released this summer show that ortho-K treatment can be extremely helpful for children with myopia.   According to the research, children under the age of 16 who tried the treatment were able to experience a significant slowing in the progression of their nearsightedness.

Is it expensive?

Ortho-k is more expensive than the process of getting fitted for and buying regular wear contact lenses.  You will probably have additional check-ups to make sure the process is working and the lenses themselves may be more expensive than what you are used to wearing.  But, the great news is Ortho-k is still have the price of vision correction surgery like LASIK not to mention the fact that, unlike LASIK, there is virtually no risk in undergoing the treatment.

Ask your optometrist at your closest America’s Best retailer if ortho-K is an option for you!

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