Orthokeratology is a process of wearing a hard contact lens that is designed to change the shape of the cornea temporarily and reduce the need for glasses and reduce the progression of nearsightedness.
Who is Eligible for Orthokeratology?
Ortho K lenses are designed to only be worn while sleeping and removed for the hours awake.
Because of this unique wear time schedule, young children who are not yet ready for wearing typical contact lenses may be candidates for orthokeratology.
Since a parent or guardian will be available for both the insertion and removal of the lenses and there is no risk of a lens falling out or having issues during the day, it is a great option for young children who show signs of nearsightedness.
The best candidates for ortho k treatments are those who are motivated to wear the lenses appropriately and usually are targeted for children, teens, and young adults.
There is a potential for older adults to be successful with orthokeratology but most of the research and development in orthokeratology focuses on preventing nearsightedness from developing or progressing.
Children who have myopia, or nearsightedness, are thought to be the best overall candidates for successful orthokeratology treatments.
How is Orthokeratology Done?
The process of fitting an ortho k contact lens is somewhat more difficult than a traditional contact lens because the desired result occurs after sustained overnight wear rather than when the lens is inserted.
To be fit with an ortho k lens, you will need to visit an eye doctor who has trained in the procedure and is comfortable fitting these special lenses.
At the appointment, scans of your eye will be done as a baseline for comparison over time and to help design the best lens for your eye.
Once the ortho k lens has been designed and ordered, it will be placed on the eye to evaluate the fitting of the lens. At this time, you will be given a trial of the lenses and instructions to wear them overnight for a set time before returning to the clinic.
After wearing the ortho k lenses, another scan of the eye will be completed and compared to the original scan.
If the ortho k lenses are fitting well and correcting the necessary nearsightedness, you may be scheduled to return in weeks to months. However, if the lens is not working properly, you will likely have another lens ordered and return sooner.
How Do Ortho K Lenses Change the Eye?
When wearing an ortho k lens, your cornea is reshaped by the lens. The contact lens is designed to be rigid and slowly cause changes to the cornea to reduce the amount of nearsightedness.
A cornea that is very steep will be much more nearsighted than a flatter cornea. Ortho k lenses are designed to flatten a steep cornea and reduce the amount of nearsightedness this way.
The ortho k lenses are specifically designed for an individual and are not designed to provide clear vision with the lens on, rather they are designed to create a change in the cornea which provides clear vision without the contact lens.
How Do I Begin Orthokeratology?
To get started with orthokeratology, you will need to have a comprehensive eye exam and then discuss the potential options with your eye doctor.
Orthokeratology is a specialty service that not all eye doctors will offer, but they will likely be able to refer you to someone who does offer the service.