Myopia, or nearsightedness, is a very common sight problem that causes far-away objects to appear out-of-focus. It is an increasingly common ocular condition, and many studies have shown that the worldwide prevalence of myopia is growing at an alarming rate. Myopia control is a term that refers to several methods of addressing this problem and slowing the rate of development in myopia. One method in particular, known as orthokeratology, can even eliminate the need to wear glasses or contact lenses during the day. While orthokeratology is used most frequently in children and teens, adults can also find success with this method of myopia control.
How Does Orthokeratology Work?
The blurry image that is perceived in myopia is due to light focusing in front of the retina, or the image-receiving tissue of the eye. Orthokeratology works by gently reshaping the curvature of the eye’s front surface overnight. In doing so, the optical system of the eye is adjusted so that light focuses directly on the retina, creating a clear image. This gentle reshaping is done by wearing a rigid gas permeable contact lens while sleeping. This lens is precisely fit and calculated to slowly change an individual eye’s prescription slowly overnight, so that glasses and contact lenses don’t have to be worn during the day. The shape of the gas permeable lens is highly specialized and takes into account many patient-specific factors, such as the original curvature of the eye and the refractive endpoint.
The Benefits of Ortho-K
Orthokeratology, aslo referred to as Ortho-K, is one of the most popular and effective methods of myopia control. There are many reasons why corneal reshaping is a popular option among children and their parents, as well as adults hoping to be treated themselves. By eliminating the need for glasses or contact lenses throughout the day, orthokeratology allows many people freedom and convenience in their day-to-day life. For some athletes, such as swimmers or divers, clear vision without correction can be a noticeable benefit. Additionally, orthokeratology can be a financially savvy option; while initiating the treatment requires an up-front cost, it can eliminate the requirement of buying glasses or annual supplies of contact lens year after year.
Perhaps the most important benefit of ortho-k is the potential health benefits associated with slowing the progression of myopia, and even reducing the total amount of nearsightedness. High amounts of myopia are associated with an increased risk of ocular pathology, including retinal detachments, early onset cataracts, and glaucoma. Many studies have showen strong evidence that orthokeratology has the potential to reduce the total amount of myopia development in children, meaning these contact lenses provide much more than convenience; they can be a protective tool for the ocular health of at-risk children.
Is Orthokeratology Right For You?
If you are interested in orthokeratology, for your children or yourself, talk to your optometrist. They can perform a series of prelimary tests and measurements to determine if this method of myopia control is appropriate for you and your lifetstyle. While the initial process of fitting the lenses and beginning myopia control can require some patience, many people agree the end results are well worth it.