Improve Vision Without Surgery
Overnight orthokeratology (ortho-k) uses specially designed vision retainers to gently and gradually reshape the front surface of the eye (the cornea) to eliminate or reduce nearsightedness (myopia) or astigmatism. The principle is similar to the use of a dental retainer used by an orthodontist to realign crooked teeth. The vision retainers are similar to contact lenses and are only worn at night while sleeping. They are then removed upon awakening to provide clear vision without using glasses or contact lenses. The retainers are comfortable and easy to care for.
The main purpose of Ortho-k is to be free from both contact lenses and eyeglasses during waking hours. While this is ideal for sports enthusiasts or those who work in dusty or dirty environments, for others Ortho-k offers the appeal of being free from corrective lenses during the day. Ortho-k also offers relief from the problems sometimes associated with full time contact lens wear like dryness and things getting on or under the lenses.
Additionally, ongoing research is showing that for most patients, the progression of nearsightedness can be stopped or significantly slowed down by using Ortho-k retainers. This makes it a great alternative for children, particularly those with nearsighted parents. Neither eyeglasses nor conventional contact lenses have been shown to have as strong a tendency towards controlling myopia as Ortho-k.
Ortho-k offers several advantages over Laser Surgery. It is less than half the cost of refractive laser surgery (LASIK) and does not involve any post-operative pain. Also, prescription changes are easy to deal with using Ortho-k. There are no strong steroid or antibiotic drugs needed with this process. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, Ortho-k is reversible. Laser surgery is not.
Ortho-k is not suitable for everyone and not every doctor can perform it. It is performed in a very exact and meticulous manner by a doctor who has undergone special training. It also requires specialized diagnostic equipment and computer software.
The procedure works best on mild to moderate amounts of nearsightedness or astigmatism. More severe cases can have their vision improved, but will still need some vision correction. The procedure also does not work well on certain shaped corneas. Also, there are several incalculable factors for each patientmost notably the corneas rigidity. Thus the speed of Ortho-k varies with each patient. Generally, but not always, less nearsighted patients respond faster than more nearsighted ones. There are no age barriers for Ortho-k. It is safe for children and adults and is an excellent alternative for children who are just first becoming nearsighted, because as mentioned above, Ortho-k may prevent any further nearsightedness from occurring.
If you are ready to give up your contacts or glasses, but do not want to undergo LASIK surgery, you owe it to yourself to learn more about Ortho-k.