What is Ortho-K? - Eye Care Optometry FV

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What is Ortho-K?

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Controlling Nearsightedness in Children

Myopia (nearsightedness) is a common vision problem affecting children who can see well up close, while distant objects are blurred. Nearsighted children tend to squint to see distant objects such as the board at school. They also tend to sit closer to the television to see it more clearly.

Sometimes, childhood myopia can worsen year after year. This change can be disconcerting to both children and their parents, prompting the question: “Will it ever stop? Or, someday will this get so bad that glasses won’t help?”

Myopia that develops in childhood nearly always stabilizes by age 20. But by then, some kids have become very nearsighted. Here are three possible ways to slow down the progression of myopia in children:

Gas permeable contact lenses

Wearing rigid gas permeable contact lenses (also referred to as “RGP” or “GP” lenses) may slow the progression of nearsightedness in children. It’s been proposed that the massaging action of the rigid GP lens on the eye during blinking may keep the eye from lengthening, thereby reducing the tendency for advancing nearsightedness.

In 2001 to 2004, the National Eye Institute (NEI) conducted a controlled study to determine whether wearing GP lenses is effective in slowing the progression of myopia in children. The 116 participants in the study were 8 to 11 years old when the research began.

At the end of the three-year study period, the children who wore GP lenses had only 0.63 diopter (D) less nearsightedness than the kids in the control group who wore soft contact lenses.

The study also found that wearing GP lenses does not slow the growth of the eye, which causes most of the myopia in children. The reduced progression of myopia among those children wearing GP lenses was due only to the effect the lenses had on the front surface of the eye (the cornea). Children who wore the GP lenses had less increase in corneal curvature than those who wore soft contact lenses. The NEI researchers believe these GP lens-induced changes in corneal curvature are not likely to be permanent, and therefore the effect of GP lenses on controlling myopia progression may not be permanent.  

Orthokeratology

Orthokeratology, or “ortho-k,” is the use of specially-designed gas permeable contact lenses to flatten the shape of the cornea and thereby reduce or correct mild to moderate amounts of nearsightedness. The lenses are worn during sleep and removed in the morning. Though temporary eyeglasses may be required during the early stages of ortho-k, many people with low to moderate amounts of myopia can see well without glasses or contact lenses during the day after wearing the corneal reshaping lenses at night.

Recent research suggests ortho-k may also reduce the lengthening of the eye itself, indicating that wearing ortho-k lenses during childhood may actually cause a permanent reduction in myopia, even if the lenses are discontinued in adulthood.

Bifocals

Some evidence suggests wearing eyeglasses with bifocal or progressive multifocal lenses may slow the progression of nearsightedness in some children. The mechanism here appears to be that the added magnifying power in these lenses reduces focusing fatigue during reading and other close work, a problem that may contribute to increasing myopia.

A five-year study published in the February 2007 issue of Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science produced an interesting result involving nearsighted children whose mother and father were also nearsighted.  These children, who wore eyeglasses with progressive multifocal lenses during the course of the study, had less progression of their myopia than similar children who wore eyeglasses with regular, single vision lenses.

See us for a consultation


If you are concerned about your child becoming more nearsighted year-to-year, call us to schedule a comprehensive eye exam and consultation. We can evaluate the progression of their myopia and discuss the best treatment options with you.

Article ©2012 Access Media Group LLC.  All rights reserved.  Reproduction other than for one-time personal use is strictly prohibited.

Orthokeratology

Orthokeratology, or “ortho-k,” is the process of reshaping the eye with specially-designed rigid gas permeable (GP) contact lenses. The goal of ortho-k is to flatten the front surface of the eye and thereby correct mild to moderate amounts of nearsightedness and astigmatism.

How ortho-k works

The GP lenses for ortho-k are applied at bedtime and worn overnight. While you sleep, the lenses gently reshape the front surface of your eye (the cornea) to correct your vision, so you can see clearly without glasses or contact lenses when you’re awake. The effect is temporary – generally enough to get you through a day or two – so you must wear the reshaping lenses each night to maintain good vision during the day.

Currently, there are two brands of orthokeratology approved by the FDA:  Corneal Refractive Therapy (CRT) from Paragon Vision Sciences and Vision Shaping Treatment (VST) from Bausch & Lomb.

Who is a candidate for ortho-k?

Orthokeratology is frequently a good option for nearsighted individuals who are too young for LASIK surgery or for some other reason are not good candidates for vision correction surgery. Because it can be discontinued at any time without permanent change to the eye, people of any age can try the procedure, as long as their eyes are healthy.

Ortho-k is particularly appealing for people who participate in sports, or who work in dusty, dirty environments that can make contact lens wear difficult.

What results can you expect from ortho-k?

The goal for ortho-k is to correct your vision to 20/20 without eyeglasses or contact lenses during the day. In FDA trials of both CRT and VST lenses, more than 65% of patients were able to achieve 20/20 visual acuity after wearing the reshaping lenses overnight. More than 90% were able to see 20/40 or better (the legal vision requirement for driving without glasses in most states).

Success rates for ortho-k tend to be higher for mild prescriptions. Call our office to find out if your prescription is within the range that can be successfully treated with ortho-k.

How long does ortho-k take?

Though you may see some improvement in your vision after a day or two of overnight ortho-k, it can take several weeks for the full effect to be apparent. During this time, your vision will not be as clear as it was with glasses or contacts, and you are likely to notice some glare and halos around lights. It’s possible you may need a temporary pair of eyeglasses for certain tasks, like driving at night, until your vision is fully corrected by the ortho-k lenses.

Is ortho-k comfortable?

Some people have comfort issues when attempting to wear gas permeable contact lenses during the day. But since ortho-k GP lenses are worn during sleep, comfort and lens awareness are generally not a problem.

Cost of orthokeratology


Ortho-k is a significantly longer process than a regular contact lens fitting. It requires a series of office visits and potentially multiple pairs of lenses. Also, GP lenses used for ortho-k are more costly than most regular contact lenses. Therefore, fees for orthokeratology are higher than fees for regular contact lens fittings.

Can I have LASIK after ortho-k?

Yes, it’s possible to have LASIK surgery after orthokeratology. But because ortho-k lenses reshape your cornea, you must stop wearing the lenses for a period of time (usually several months) so your eyes can return to their original shape and stabilize. Be sure to tell your LASIK surgeon that you’ve worn ortho-k lenses, so they can advise you how long you should wait before having the surgery.

Article ©2012 Access Media Group LLC.  All rights reserved.  Reproduction other than for one-time personal use is strictly prohibited.


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