Orthokeratology, also known as ortho-k, is a special non-surgical vision correction procedure involving special gas permeable contact lenses that are worn each night while you sleep, to gently reshape your cornea and correct your vision. The cornea is the front part of your eye that helps shape light as it enters. If the cornea is not shaped correctly, images become blurry and hard to discern. Ortho-K gently reshapes your cornea, giving it the proper shape to bend light to give you the best sight possible. The fact that this procedure takes place while you sleep means that each morning, when you wake up, all you need to do is take out your contact lenses and you are able to enjoy improved eyesight up to 20/20 all day.
Many people with mild to moderate nearsightedness, with or without astigmatism may benefit from the use of ortho-k lenses. Since the effects of ortho-k lenses are reinforced only if worn every night, if wear is discontinued, your eyes return to their original shape. Risk for ortho-k is, therefore, quite minimal and ortho-k patients can discontinue at any time without adverse effects. Use of Ortho-k also does not rule out LASIK in the future. Although Ortho-k lenses are primarily prescribed to correct nearsightedness, they also may be used to correct astigmatism, farsightedness and, in some cases even presbyopia.
If you would like to be glasses and contacts free but are not an ideal candidate for refractive surgery either because of age or other eye conditions like dry eyes, you may still benefit from ortho-k.
During your specialized ortho-k fitting, your eye doctor will ensure you are a good candidate for ortho-k lenses and make sure that the lenses are properly fitted for comfort and safety. The eye doctor will begin by obtaining measurements of your “corneal topography.” This procedure is painless and takes only about a minute. This gives the doctor a detailed picture of the unique topography of your eye. Your doctor will then either fit you from an in-office inventory of ortho-k lenses, or may order a custom pair for fitting at a later appointment. The first pair or two of lenses are usually temporary, in order to start the process of reshaping your cornea. By the third pair, most people can expect to reach their fullest level of vision correction.
The amount of time it takes to begin experiencing a change of vision with ortho-k varies from person to person. Some people may have great vision after a day or two of using ortho-k lenses overnight, whereas those that require a stronger prescription may take up to a few weeks before attaining the full benefit.
It is important to note that Ortho-k lenses are highly specialized and only specially certified optometrists are able to provide fittings for these lenses. For more information, and to see if ortho-k lenses are a suitable solution for you, contact your eye care professional today.