What is orthokeratology (ortho-k)?

What is orthokeratology (ortho-k)?

Orthokeratology is the fitting of a specially designed gas permeable contact lens or mold that is worn overnight.  The mold gently reshapes the cornea (front surface of your eye) so that when the lens is removed in the morning, vision is clear, and daytime glasses or contacts lenses are not needed.  It is similar to how braces or retainers work for teeth.

Is orthokeratology a new concept?

Orthokeratology has been around for several decades.  More recent advancements in technology, including the ability to evaluate the cornea and more specific lens designs, research has shown the ability of these lenses to slow the progression of myopia in children.


Is orthokeratology safe?

Studies show that complications from ortho-k are very low and at the same frequency as other types of overnight contact lens wear.   The key to minimizing risk is to always follow the proper handling, hygiene and disinfection procedures recommended by the doctors at Ridgeview Eye Care.  Ortho -k is also a fully reversable therapy.  If the mold is not worn for a period of time, the cornea will return to its original or natural shape.


Is my child too young for ortho-k?

There are no age restrictions to starting ortho-k.  Most children show proper dexterity to insert and remove lenses by age 8.  While we recommend parents be trained in proper insertion and removal techniques, we find that with some practice, most children do very well on their own.  Orthokeratology is a great option for kids as it provides great vision for school, sports, swimming, and all other activities without the inconvenience of glasses or contacts.


Do the lenses have to be worn every night?

Yes, the molds need to be worn every night to maintain the best clarity.  Missing a day or more will likely result in a temporary reduction in clarity, especially early on in the therapy or if the starting prescription was stronger. 


How long does it take to see results?

Many patients see results after the first night of wearing the molds!  Depending on the initial prescription, it could take up to 7-14 days to see the full effect. 


How long does myopia management with ortho-k last?

This may depend on several factors.  Most kids vision stabilizes by mid to late teen years.  We generally look for 2 years of stability in the prescription before discontinuing therapy.  However, many patients remain in ortho-k lenses as their main form of correction even after therapy.


Would my child still be a candidate for LASIK down the road?

YES!  Again, orthokeratology is completely reversible and does not permanently change the shape of the cornea.  After a period out of the molds, the cornea will return to its normal shape and a patient can be evaluated for LASIK.  In fact, using ortho-k for myopia management may keep a patient’s prescription within parameters where LASIK tends to be most successful. 


Bonus question:  This sounds pretty cool, can adults benefit from orthokeratology too?

Sure!  For adults with mild to moderate myopia, orthokeratology would give you the freedom to enjoy clear vision without wearing daytime glasses or contacts.  Adults who prefer a non-invasive option to correct vision or whose eyes may be too dry to comfortably wear soft contact lenses are good candidates. 

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