Answers About Ortho-K (Orthokeratology)

Are you looking for a safe, non-invasive procedure to correct vision problems like nearsightedness or astigmatism? If so, you should consider Ortho-K.

Read on to learn more about how this treatment works, who can benefit from it, and the potential risks it can pose.

What Is Ortho-K?

Ortho-K, also called orthokeratology, is a non-surgical treatment for various eye conditions. Most eye doctors consider it a cosmetic or elective procedure, but it helps you see better with no aids during the day.

As part of this treatment, patients wear eye contact lenses all night long to correct vision problems. These contact lenses aren’t like traditional ones — they’re made of gas-permeable material and focus on providing better vision in the future (instead of in the present time).

Some patients like to compare Ortho-K to dental braces, as these contact lenses reshape your cornea’s surface. Once the morning rolls around, you can take off your contact lenses and proceed with your day as normal.

Researchers first introduced the treatment in the 1960s, but it wasn’t approved for real-life use until the FDA performed a thorough study. The first hard contact lenses were approved for overnight use in the early 2000s.

How Does Ortho-K Work?

You will first need to visit one of our experienced eye doctors to begin your Ortho-K treatment, as these individuals are qualified to administer it.

Before you wear Ortho-K contact lenses, you must first get fitted for them. Your True Eye Expert will use a tool called a corneal topographer to map and measure the surface of your cornea. This process will allow your eye doctor to analyze your cornea’s shape and curves and determine if you will benefit from Ortho-K treatment.

Once you receive your custom contact lenses, they will flatten your cornea’s center and alter how light bends as it enters your eyes. Most patients wear their Ortho-K lenses while they sleep and take them off during the day.

These specialized contact lenses are robust enough to re-mold your cornea but still allow your eyes to receive enough oxygen.

What Does Ortho-K Treat?

Orthokeratology usually provides maximum vision correction within two weeks. Some patients may experience significant improvement within a couple of days, but everyone’s experience will differ. Ortho-K contact lenses tend to offer patients 20/40 vision or better, but the optimal goal is 20/20 vision.

Our True Eye Experts recommend orthokeratology to treat the following conditions:

  • Astigmatism: Astigmatism is when a patient experiences blurry or distorted vision at any distance.
  • Myopia: Also known as nearsightedness, myopia is when objects in the distance appear blurry.

When you wear your orthokeratology contact lenses at night as prescribed, you will experience improved vision each day. However, if you cease wearing them, your pre-existing vision condition will eventually return. That means that you will either have to resume orthokeratology treatment or start wearing eyeglasses or traditional contact lenses.

They can also slow the growth of progressive myopia in children. As a child’s eyes grow, they lengthen—if this growth is too dramatic or happens too quickly, it causes myopia. Orthokeratology lenses help slow this growth. 

Am I Eligible for Ortho-K?

Ortho-K contact lenses may seem like a complex treatment with a lot of responsibility — i.e., one that only adults should undergo. However, Ortho-K contact lenses are suitable for people of any age, from children to elderly individuals.

Orthokeratology offers the following benefits over alternative treatments. For example, Ortho-K allows patients to avoid the:

  • Risks of LASIK surgery (including under- or over-corrections)
  • Hassle of wearing glasses
  • Lack of oxygen to the eyes associated with wearing traditional contact lenses

Ortho-K is especially suitable for:

  • People who don’t want to undergo refractive surgery
  • Children and young adults who don’t want to wear glasses
  • People who work in outdoor environments or play contact sports

Schedule an appointment with True Eye Experts to discuss the benefits and risks of Ortho-K treatment. During your consultation, your eye doctor will examine your eyes and see if you are a candidate for this service. People with dry eyes, severe corneal scarring, and other conditions may not be good candidates for Ortho-K treatment.

Are There Any Risks Associated with Ortho-K?

Ortho-K presents few risks, as it is not a permanent solution. The corneal reshaping process it inflicts on your eyes is temporary. You can stop wearing your Ortho-K contact lenses at any time safely and switch to more conservative treatment like eyeglasses.

However, you should be aware of potential drawbacks before you begin Ortho-K. The two most significant risks to know about are:

  • Corneal edema: Corneal edema is when fluid builds up in your cornea and clouds your vision.
  • Corneal staining: Corneal staining refers to abrasions (scratches) on your eye.

Some other side effects you may experience include:

  • Irritation
  • Discharge
  • Redness
  • Pain
  • Tearing
  • Visual distortion

In most cases, all side effects of Ortho-K are temporary. Your eyes will need time to adjust to the new treatment, so don’t be alarmed if you experience minor side effects at first. However, if your symptoms persist or worsen, you should reach out to your eye doctor for advice on how to proceed.

What about Eye Infections & Ortho-K?

Because a foreign object will rest on your eye during Ortho-K treatment, you’ll naturally subject yourself to an increased risk of infection. The infection risk is most present among children and adolescents, as these individuals will be less capable of maintaining good contact lens hygiene. 

However, you can prevent infections by following these safety tips:

  • Wash your hands before touching your lenses. 
  • Don’t wear your lenses for extended periods (i.e., forgetting to take them out during the day.)
  • Follow your doctor’s instructions for disinfecting, storing, and replacing your lenses.

Schedule an Eye-Care Appointment Today!

While Ortho-K is ideal for some patients, it may not work for everyone. For the True Eye Expert team to create the best treatment plan for your particular condition, be sure to schedule an eye-care appointment today.


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