Orthokeratology, also known as Ortho-K, is a nonsurgical alternative to refractive surgery, that reshapes the cornea with a series of custom-designed, gas permeable contact lenses that are worn overnight, while the patient is asleep. These lenses reshape the cornea overnight to provide improved vision during the day.
Patients can obtain clear vision, with no need for glasses or contact lenses, without refractive surgery. While results of Ortho-K are temporary, they can be maintained by wearing the contact lenses overnight.
The practice of orthokeratology has been in use for several decades, even though, at that time, Ortho-K contacts were not originally approved by the FDA to be worn overnight. The overnight wear of cornea-reshaping lenses has been approved by the FDA and has helped to improve the appeal and effectiveness of this treatment.
Candidates for Ortho-K
Ortho-K is ideal for patients with myopia, or nearsightedness, of up to six diopters or astigmatism of up to -1.75 diopters, although the best results are often achieved in patients with lower amounts. Patients who do not want to wear glasses or contact lenses during the day, but do not mind wearing them at night, often choose Ortho-K instead of surgery for vision correction.
Many people who may not be candidates for LASIK, including teenagers and adolescents, seek treatment with Ortho-K instead, because the treatment can be performed on patients of all ages, as long as their eyes are healthy.
Certain patients may not be eligible for Ortho-K including those with the following conditions:
- Corneal infection
- Systemic disease
- Eye disease
- Eye injury
The doctor will be able to determine whether or not this procedure is appropriate after a thorough medical evaluation of the patients eyes and their overall health.
How Ortho-K Works
Ortho-K reshapes the cornea to allow light to properly focus on the retina for improved vision. To begin treatment, the doctor will measure the precise curvature of the corneas with a corneal topographer to determine the amount of correction needed in order for to achieve vision correction.
Temporary contact lenses will be provided while customized lenses are crafted. These lenses will be worn overnight and results may begin to be noticed the very next day. While only one pair of lenses is often needed to improve vision, some patients may require additional lenses in order to achieve their desired results.
Once desired vision improvements have been achieved, patients will wear special lenses while they sleep in order to maintain their new vision levels. If wear is discontinued, vision will gradually return to its original level.
The Benefits of Ortho-K
Corneal reshaping offers many benefits over other forms of lens correction, especially for those patients who do not wish to undergo surgery or do not want to deal with the hassle of wearing glasses or contacts every day. This noninvasive nonsurgical treatment achieves results while patients sleep, making it convenient for nearly anyone. While results are not permanent, they are often more consistent than surgical results, in which vision may begin to blur.
The Results of Ortho-K
With Ortho-K treatment, patients often see an improvement of two to three diopters in less than two weeks. During this initial period, you may experience glares and halos, but these side effects will subside with time. Results are not permanent, and will require continuous wearing of the contact lenses overnight in order to maintain the desired vision results.
Despite its ongoing maintenance care, most patients find the contact lenses used for Ortho-K to be comfortable. Even patients who experience discomfort or lens awareness with ordinary contact lenses are usually not bothered by Ortho-K lenses since they are worn during sleep.
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