Are Ortho-K Lenses Right for My Child?
Orthokeratology (Ortho-K) lenses emerge as a promising solution in addressing the vision needs of children, offering a range of benefits that extend beyond simple refractive correction. Specifically designed for overnight wear, Ortho-K lenses provide children with the freedom to experience clear vision during the day without the inconvenience of glasses or regular contact lenses. Beyond the convenience factor, Ortho-K has gotten a lot of attention for its role in managing the progression of myopia (or nearsightedness) in children, a concern that has become increasingly prevalent. By temporarily reshaping the cornea while sleeping, these lenses not only correct existing nearsightedness but also show promise in slowing down the advancement of myopia, by slowing down eye grown, thereby promoting long-term ocular health. This innovative approach to vision correction brings a unique set of advantages, making Ortho-K lenses a wonderful option for parents seeking effective and convenient options for their children’s visual well-being.
What are Ortho-K Lenses?
Orthokeratology, commonly known as Ortho-K, refers to a non-surgical vision correction technique that utilizes specially designed contact lenses to reshape the cornea temporarily. The primary goal of Ortho-K is to reduce or eliminate refractive errors such as myopia (nearsightedness) and astigmatism. This innovative approach offers an alternative to traditional eyeglasses or contact lenses during waking hours.
Ortho-K lenses are typically rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses, and they are worn overnight while sleeping. The lenses work by gently flattening the cornea, which is the clear front part of the eye responsible for focusing light onto the retina. By altering the corneal shape, Ortho-K lenses correct refractive errors and provide clear vision throughout the day, allowing individuals to go without corrective lenses during waking hours.
These lenses are custom-fitted to the child’s eye shape and prescription, and they are prescribed and monitored by eye care practitioners. Regular check-ups are essential to ensure the lenses are fitting properly and to assess the effect of corneal reshaping. The effects of Ortho-K are temporary, so consistent overnight wear is necessary to maintain the desired level of vision correction.
Can Ortho-K Lenses Be Beneficial for Children and Adolescents?
Orthokeratology (Ortho-K) lenses can indeed offer potential benefits for children and adolescents, particularly in the context of managing myopia, or nearsightedness. Myopia is a common refractive error that tends to progress during childhood and adolescence. Ortho-K lenses have been studied as a means to not only correct existing myopia but also to slow down the progression of myopia in young individuals.
Several research studies have suggested that wearing Ortho-K lenses overnight may help in controlling the elongation of the eye, which is a contributing factor to myopia progression. By reshaping the cornea temporarily, these lenses provide clear vision during the day without the need for glasses or contact lenses. This can be especially advantageous for children and teenagers who may be self-conscious about wearing glasses or find traditional contact lenses inconvenient.
The potential benefit of Ortho-K in managing myopia is of particular interest because high levels of myopia are associated with an increased risk of eye conditions such as retinal detachment, glaucoma, and myopic maculopathy. Slowing down the progression of myopia during childhood will, therefore, have long-term ocular health advantages.
How are Ortho-K Lenses Used for Children?
The use of Orthokeratology (Ortho-K) lenses for children involves a specific process that requires careful consideration and supervision by an eye care practitioner. Here is an overview of how Ortho-K lenses are typically used for children:
- Comprehensive Eye Examination: Before considering Ortho-K for a child, a comprehensive eye examination is conducted by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. This examination includes assessing the child’s refractive error, eye health, and overall suitability for Ortho-K.
- Consultation and Suitability Assessment: During the consultation, the eye care professional will discuss the potential benefits and risks of Ortho-K for the child. Factors such as the child’s age, level of myopia, and overall eye health will be considered to determine whether Ortho-K is a suitable option.
- Custom Fitting: If Ortho-K is deemed appropriate, the next step involves custom fitting the child with Ortho-K lenses. These lenses are designed based on the child’s individual eye measurements and prescription. The fitting process ensures that the lenses sit comfortably on the eyes and effectively reshape the cornea.
- Instruction and Training: Both the child and parents or guardians will receive thorough instruction on how to apply, remove, and care for the Ortho-K lenses. Proper hygiene and lens care are crucial to prevent eye infections and ensure the lenses maintain their effectiveness.
- Overnight Wear: Ortho-K lenses are typically worn overnight while the child sleeps. The lenses gently reshape the cornea, providing clear vision during the day. Consistent overnight wear is essential for the maintenance of the corneal reshaping effect.
- Follow-Up Visits: Regular follow-up visits with the eye care professional are scheduled to monitor the child’s eye health, assess the effectiveness of the Ortho-K lenses, and make any necessary adjustments to the lens prescription. These visits also provide an opportunity to address any concerns or issues.
- Parental Involvement: The success of Ortho-K for children relies on active parental involvement. Parents need to ensure that the child adheres to the prescribed wearing schedule, maintains proper hygiene, and attends regular follow-up appointments.
- Monitoring Myopia Progression: One of the potential benefits of Ortho-K for children is its role in managing myopia progression. The eye care professional will monitor changes in the child’s refractive error over time to assess the effectiveness of Ortho-K in preventing eye growth and myopia increase.
It’s important to note that the decision to use Ortho-K lenses for children should be based on a thorough assessment by an eye care professional. Each child is unique, and the suitability of Ortho-K may vary depending on individual factors. Regular communication with the eye care practitioner and strict adherence to the prescribed protocol are essential for the safety and effectiveness of Ortho-K for children.
If you think that your child may be a good candidate for Ortho-K lenses, we encourage you to get in touch with our office today and schedule an appointment.