What You Need to Know about Orthokeratology
Have you heard about orthokeratology?
This revolutionary treatment method is making waves in the eye care community for its ability to help patients go without glasses or contact lenses for the first time in years. Technically, orthokeratology has been around for more than four decades and has been available to most patients as a treatment option since the 1990s or early 2000s.
However, interest in orthokeratology treatment has grown significantly throughout the past decade—and it has rapidly become one of the biggest topics in eye care.
Orthokeratology is a non-surgical process in which contact lenses are designed to safely and gradually reshape the curvature of the front surface of the eye (or cornea). This process is extremely effective for improving or eliminating conditions such as nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia), imperfections in eye curvature (astigmatism), and age-related farsightedness (presbyopia).
The contact lenses used for orthokeratology treatments are not standard contacts. Instead, they are rigid gas permeable contact lenses designed specifically to be worn overnight while sleeping.
While the patient sleeps, the lenses gently reshape the front surface of the eye. The lenses are removed upon
waking and provide the patient with clear vision throughout the day.
The Benefits of Orthokeratology
For people who prefer not to wear glasses or contact lenses during waking hours, orthokeratology is a particularly attractive treatment option. Someone who finds contacts uncomfortable and doesn’t like the way they look in glasses would likely appreciate orthokeratology as a workable alternative.
Orthokeratology is terrific for situations in which unaided vision is an asset or requirement. For instance, patients who participate in sports can have visual freedom without needing to rely on eyeglasses or conventional contact lenses. Similarly, orthokeratology can provide unaided vision for professionals whose daily work requires it, such as pilots, police officers, firefighters, or any jobs that require better visual acuity.
Ultimately, orthokeratology can benefit anyone who typically relies on glasses or contacts for functional vision. By dramatically enhancing natural vision for recreation, sports, and leisure, orthokeratology can provide advantages in all aspects of day-to- day life.
How Orthokeratology Works
The orthokeratology treatment process is rooted in the design of the ortho-k lenses, also called corneal reshaping contact lenses. Only highly breathable lenses that have been FDA approved for overnight wear are used for orthokeratology.
At Miami Contact Lens Institute, we begin the contact lens fitting process by measuring the curvature of the patient’s corneas. These measurements are made with a corneal topographer. The instrument and our expertise in this area make for a painless procedure that takes less than a minute to complete.
The job of the corneal topographer is to provide us with a map of the front surface of the eye. We then custom design the orthokeratology lenses based on this data and other measurements taken at the office.
As a patient, you may need a series of temporary lenses to see properly until you reach the desired prescription. Because your vision will improve throughout the treatment process, changes to the lenses are necessary to achieve the maximum vision correction effect. In most cases, patients need up to three pairs of lenses throughout a full orthokeratology treatment.
Until your eyes are fully corrected, you might notice blurred vision and glare or halos around lights.
These side effects are normal. When you begin to wear ortho-k lenses, you will also likely have some awareness of the lenses on your eyes as you fall asleep. With time, the lenses should become more comfortable immediately upon insertion.
Toward the end of orthokeratology treatment, we use retainer lenses, which are only worn to maintain improved vision. The amount of time that these retainer lenses need to be worn will differ per patient. It usually ranges from several hours 2-3 times per week to several hours each night. These retainer contact lenses are comfortable and easy to maintain.
The Effects of Orthokeratology
With orthokeratology treatment, most patients achieve dramatic improvements in their vision that allow them to function without glasses or contact lenses. Vision improves over days or weeks. The best results occur in people with mild to moderate amounts of nearsightedness or astigmatism. Generally, ortho-k can correct up to -6.00 diopters of myopia. The amount of refractive error that can be effectively managed with orthokeratology differs for every patient.
Orthokeratology is a vision treatment that can be used at any age. In fact, today, ortho-k is the single most effective method of slowing down progressive myopia in children. If your child suffers from myopia, ortho-k is worth considering as a means of slowing or controlling the progression of the condition.
Another major benefit of orthokeratology is that it is completely reversible and free of surgical risk. The corneal reshaping effect is temporary, and you can stop at any time—provided you are willing to start wearing glasses or contacts again when the myopia returns!
At Miami Lens Contact Institute, we aim for 20/20 vision after ortho-k. However, achieving the best results requires a certain amount of commitment and vigilance from the patient. Fitting ortho-k lenses is a more time-consuming process than fitting regular contact lenses. Orthokeratology also requires a series of office visits and potentially multiple sets of lenses. Patients need to be seen regularly to ensure their lenses are fitting well and their eyes remain healthy.
The ability to improve a patient’s vision and quality of life with orthokeratology is one of the most exciting developments in the field of eye care. With newer diagnostic technology and lens materials, orthokeratology is a viable alternative to invasive surgery. We are proud to offer this type of treatment at Miami Lens Contact Institute.
Frequently Asked Questions about Orthokeratology
Our team at Miami Lens Contact Institute is well-versed in questions about how orthokeratology works and what to expect from a treatment plan, including:
>> What is the cost of orthokeratology?
Price varies depending on the patient. In general, treatment cost is an outcome of how many lenses are required to achieve maximum vision correction. Typically, the cost of an orthokeratology treatment will range from $1,000 to $3,500.
>> Is orthokeratology covered by insurance?
No. Because orthokeratology is an elective procedure, it is not covered by standard insurance policies.
Patients usually pay for this treatment out of pocket.
>>Can you wear ortho-k lenses during the day?
Yes. Ortho-k contact lenses were first used as daytime contacts, so they can be safely used for that purpose. However, because orthokeratology lenses are reshaping the eye, they are not the most comfortable lenses and are typically better worn at night.
>>How do you insert ortho-k lenses into your eyes?
The process for inserting orthokeratology lenses is the same as that for any other type of contact lens.
Put the lens on your finger and apply it directly to surface over the colored part of the eye.
>>Who makes ortho-k lenses?
Orthokeratology lenses are designed by professional eye doctors but are made by laboratories in the United States.
Who does the fitting for orthokeratology lenses at Miami Lens Contact Institute?
Dr. Elise Kramer does the ortho-k lens fittings at Miami Lens Contact Institute.