Orthokeratology, also known as ortho-k, is a non-surgical solution to controlling vision problems like myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism. This approach uses specialty contact lenses worn overnight to temporarily reshape the cornea, which helps to provide clear vision without the need for other vision correction during the day.
Since ortho-k allows you to see clearly without eyeglasses or contact lenses the next day, it’s becoming a popular choice for myopia management. It’s important to maintain the routine recommended by your optometrist when it comes to myopia control, as the effects typically only last a day or 2.
How Does Ortho-K Work?
Ortho-k lenses are typically made from a rigid, gas-permeable material, and are intended to be worn overnight while you sleep. They gently put pressure on your cornea and cause it to reshape slowly to help it properly refract light the next day. This can help deal with problems like myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism.
The cornea naturally refracts light into your eye to help your brain build a proper image, but problems can often develop with how the eye develops, leading to refractive errors. Ortho-k aims to help manage these symptoms and help provide clear vision for the following day while helping you avoid the need for eyeglasses, contact lenses, and other vision correction.
When you wake up, the lenses are taken out, and your vision should be clear for the rest of the day. It’s important to note, however, that the effects of ortho-k aren’t permanent—regular use is needed to maintain clear vision. If you stop using the lenses, your eyes will slowly revert back to their natural shape and your vision problems will return.
Does Ortho-k Help with Myopia Control?
Ortho-k is particularly helpful when it comes to treating myopia—a common condition affecting millions of Americans every year. This condition occurs when either the eye is too long or the cornea itself is angled incorrectly. The cornea naturally refracts light into your eye so that your brain can build an image, so when there’s an issue with its angle, it can lead to light entering and hitting the wrong part of the eye.
Ortho-k helps address this issue by temporarily reshaping the cornea. By changing the angle, light can enter the eye and hit the retina properly. This gives your brain the proper information needed to build a clear image, helping prevent how myopia can negatively affect your life.
Studies have shown that ortho-k has actually been linked to limiting myopia progression in children. While this does vary from person to person, ortho-k can help slow myopia development in school-age children. Since it temporarily reshapes the cornea, it can signal the brain to slow the elongation of the eye itself.
What Are the Benefits of Orthokeratology?
Ortho-k is an excellent choice if you’re looking to help treat your myopia, and can provide all kinds of benefits. These include:
- Slowing myopia progression
- Providing clear vision throughout the day without the need for other vision correction
- Being a safe alternative to vision correction surgery
- Being a convenient and flexible alternative to traditional vision correction
Ortho-k tends to be a more popular choice when an alternative option is more inconvenient. It’s especially beneficial in situations where wearing traditional eyeglasses or contact lenses is not only inconvenient but could actually be risky.
For example, if you work in an environment where you often need safety goggles, it may be difficult to wear them alongside regular eyeglasses. If you often play intensive sports, glasses or contacts may shift around while you’re moving. If you’re in an environment that’s often bright, glasses may cause a glare.
Ortho-k helps to minimize many of the problems commonly associated with wearing eyeglasses and contact lenses. No matter your situation, there’s often a way ortho-k can benefit your life.
Should I Get Ortho-K?
If you’re considering ortho-k, you should speak with your optometrist. They can help explain the pros and cons of ortho-k and help you determine whether or not it’s the right choice to help correct your vision. By booking a regular comprehensive eye exam, you can learn what the best approach may be for your vision.
While ortho-k is an excellent choice for myopia control, it isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach—your optometrist can assess your eyes to determine whether you’re a suitable candidate.