What is Orthokeratology?
Orthokeratology is the newly developed field of medical and vision science where corneal moulds are used to reshape your cornea so that you can see clearly with natural vision throughout the day without the need for glasses, soft contact lenses or laser eye surgery.
Also known as Ortho K, OK Lenses and Dream Lenses.
Although orthokeratology was being practiced since the early 1990s, it hasn’t been until 2001 with the invention of newer more breathable rigid contact lens materials that have made this more widespread and possible, and only in the last 10 years with the advancement in computer technology and corneal mapping equipment have we really been able to achieve more predictable results and changes to your vision.
The prescription ranges that we can correct for myopia or short-sightedness includes -0.75 through to -10.00 with astigmatism up to -3.00.
How does Orthokeratology work?
An Ortho K lens is a corneal mould or hard contact lens which has been designed using individual corneal topographical information. These lenses are inserted at night as part of a bedtime routine. The person then sleeps in them throughout the night. Upon removing their corneal moulds or Ortho K lenses in the morning, that person can expect clear natural vision in the long distance and up close without the need for glasses, contact lenses or laser eye surgery.
Ortho K is an alternative to Laser Eye Surgery
The Ortho K lens is designed to usually flatten the central part of the corneal epithelium (the upper most layer of the cornea, which is 50um thick). It does this by causing a migration of the central epithelial cells across to the mid-peripheral corneal area producing a correction for myopia or short-sightedness. This process occurs mostly over the first 2 to 3 weeks of consistently using the Ortho K lenses every night.
What are the advantages of Ortho K Lenses?
If you suffer from dry eyes, mild allergies or have the desire to see clearly without your glasses or have had bad experiences with soft contact lenses, then Ortho K lenses are a great option. It is actually easier to insert, remove and care for these lenses compared to soft contact lenses.
Ortho K lenses have also been proven to slow down the progression of myopia or short-sightedness in children up until the age of 21. Ortho K Lenses have been documented over many years through many studies to help control the progression of myopia.
Progression of Myopia
Myopia or short-sightedness in children is particularly problematic. Children developing myopia at a younger age will usually become the higher myopes later in life. This will make them particularly dependent on their glasses for day to day activities. Children starting with short-sightedness at age 6 can usually expect to be -10.00 by age 18, those developing short-sightedness at age 9 can expect to be - 8.00, and those at 11 with short-sightedness can expect to be -5.00 to -6.00.
Other factors increasing the risk of these children also include family history of short-sightedness or high degrees short-sightedness, environmental factors including spending less time outdoors and more time indoors having reduced sun exposure, and children spending more time reading and on digital devices like iphones, ipads and laptops.
Unfortunately with the age that we live in where computing technology is becoming omnipresent, it is impractical to ask a child to reduce their screen time. Instead it is about having more balance in their visual system.
Our optometrists recommend that children spending an equal amount of time outdoors in daylight playing sports as they do on their screens, computer games and doing their homework.
What’s so bad about developing severe myopia?
Apart from needing thicker glasses and being completely reliant on them to see and function in common everyday activities, severe myopia or short-sightedness over -6.00 increases the risk of eye diseases such as glaucoma, cataracts, myopic macular degeneration, retinal tears and retinal detachments by as much as a factor 3 to 60 times the average person.
Furthermore, there is a trend in the world population becoming more short-sighted or myopic and The Brien Holden Vision Institute of Australia has published a paper predicting that by 2050 50% of the world will be short-sighted, sharply up from 30% in 2010. This is considered the Myopia Epidemic and we must now arm ourselves with the correct tools for protecting future generations of children.
How do I get started?
Orthokeratology is very much like having orthodontics for the eyes. Everyone’s eyes are individual and it is an involved process in selecting and designing the perfect lenses for your eyes that will fit comfortably and give you the desired corneal changes needed in order to give you clear natural vision throughout the day.
Start with a regular eye examination and our optometrist can then discuss based on your prescription, health of your eyes and lifestyle what your realistic expectations can be out of using Ortho K lenses and then how to best proceed.