You may have some questions about what orthokeratology is. Below you will find some commonly asked question about orthokeratology. If you still have questions after reading this FAQ, then feel free to make an appointment at the office for a consultation to learn more about this amazing process, and see if it is right for you.
1. What is Orthokeratology?
Orthokeratology, also commonly referred to as ortho-k or CR (for corneal reshaping), is a procedure to correct for myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism. This procedure is far less invasive than most and has even been shown to slow myopia progression. Patients using the orthokeratology procedure wear gas permeable lenses at night in order to reshape their cornea and improve their vision. Ortho-k is most comparable to wearing braces, but to correct your eyes and not your teeth. If you are a candidate for ortho-k then you will receive lenses specifically molded to their eyes, and will wear them nightly to gradually improve their vision. The lens will reshape your cornea as you sleep, so that during the day your vision will be improved and you can start seeing clearly without corrective contact lenses or glasses during the day.
2. What is Myopia?
Myopia (near-sightedness) is a condition in which patients have trouble with their distance vision. Myopia is one of the most common ocular disorders and is increasing worldwide. If myopia is severe enough it can even affect near vision. This condition can change the shape of your eye by steepening the front surface of your eye. Myopia is one of the main causes of blindness, and can also lead to glaucoma. It is carried on from parents to children genetically, but it is also known to be caused by environmental stress near work: studying, reading, and computer use. The environmental stress has caused the increase in myopia as countries become industrialized and education levels rise. Currently 25% of people in the United States face problems with Myopia. Myopia can cause adverse ocular changes, thinning and weakening of the retina, and abnormal stretching in the eye that can pull on vitreous (gel in the eye). A detached retina can lead to blindness, and people with myopia are also twice as likely to develop glaucoma. Rise of problems in Myopia and severity of problems are cause for concern, because of how people are affected in everyday life as well as how people can be affected in their inability to function in emergencies and natural disasters.
3. What are gas permeable (GP) lenses?
Gas permeable lenses are made from fluorsilicone acrylate, a firm, durable plastic that allows oxygen to pass through. They are also known as rigid gas permeables or RGPs. They are better for eye health, because of their low water composition. They are also less likely to harbor bacteria than most soft lenses, because there is less water in which the bacteria can proliferate. These lenses are easy to disinfect and clean, don’t dehydrate, are easier to handle, and last longer. GPs also retain their shape better than most lenses. They are more comfortable because they allow oxygen to pass through, and are custom fit to your eyes by your optometrist using topography. They are made thinner and with smooth edges to increase their comfort. While these lenses are custom fit and more comfortable, they do require a short amount of time to adapt to because of the size of the lenses. These lenses are smaller so your eyes may have to adjust to being “more aware” of the lens. However, once your eyes are accustomed to the GPs, they are just as comfortable, if not more comfortable, than soft lenses.
4. What is the cornea?
The cornea is the layer of skin that separates the eye from the outside world, and it is what bends light towards the back of the eye with its curvature. It is what creates the eye’s corrective power, and abnormalities in the cornea can cause myopia (near sightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism.
5. What is the process of Orthokeratology?
Patients should set up an appointment at the office to discuss the possibility of using orthokeratology. First, the wellness and overall health of your eyes is assessed by looking at your retina and the outside of your eye. When it is determined ortho-k is right for you, the topography and size of your cornea will be measured by computerized corneal mapping. This measurement, along with your prescription, will help create the mold of your cornea, which will be used to make lenses specifically molded to you. When you receive your lenses the fit to your cornea will be evaluated, and you will learn how to insert, remove, and clean your new lenses. The next day, after you have worn your lenses for a night, you will come back in for your cornea to be reevaluated and mapped once again. Vision may also be slightly different between morning, afternoon, and evening for the first couple of days as the cornea adjusts to the new shape. You will come back in as the treatment continues to assess the reshaping of your cornea. Treatment length will vary for each patient, and lenses may be modified at times in order for you to achieve your goal of perfect vision.
6. Who can be a candidate for ortho-k?
Orthokeratology is for individuals who want to eliminate their need for eyeglasses or contacts, and not take the risk of having surgery. Ortho-K is best for near sighted individual’s under 40 years old with a mild prescription of -4 diopters or less. The success rate is higher for those with a mild prescription. Some achieve 20/40 vision while most achieve 20/20 vision. Ortho-K is also a great alternative for individuals who are much too young for surgery such as Lasik. Orthokeratology may not be best for individuals with dry eyes, large pupil size, or high myopia. If you think that you are interested in orthokeratology as a treatment for your myopia, then you should schedule a consultation to see if you are a candidate.
7. Can I use if I have dry eye?
Yes you can. Patients with dry eye can be treated for dry eye while they are using orthokeratology. The lenses are worn over night only while the patient sleeps, which is normally less time than most people wear lenses while they are awake, thus patients have more time without eye wear. Plus the gas permeable lenses allow oxygen to pass through 600% better than most lenses. They will allow your eyes to breathe incredibly well, and are less of a factor in dry eyes.
8. Can my child use ortho-k?
Yes! In fact, orthokeratology has shown to work best in children. Children that use ortho-k have shown a slow in progression of their myopia, and thus they won’t inherit their parent’s prescription. However, there is no way to predict the effect for each individual child. Your child will wear the ortho-k lenses at night, and will not have to wear contacts or glasses during the day. This way you don’t have to worry about them losing/breaking their contacts or glasses, and they can play sports and other rigorous activities without having to wear eye wear.
9. How long does it take?
Treatment time varies for all patients depending on prescription. It normally takes a few weeks for the treatment to take full effect, and some patients may still need to wear glasses during the day in the beginning of their treatment. However, once treatment has progressed some patients only have to wear their lenses every other night, or once or twice a week.
10. Is the change permanent?
As long as you continue to wear your ortho-k lenses at night, the improvement in your eyesight will remain the same. However, these lenses are like retainers and braces. When you stop wearing your lenses for extended amount of time your cornea will return to its original shape, and your old prescription will return.
11. Can I still do Lasik surgery after wearing ortho-k?
Yes you can. Patients that wish to have lasik performed while using orthokeratology must first stop wearing their ortho-k lenses for a period of time. This way your eyes can go back to their original shape. You should also tell your surgeon that you have used orthokeratology before having lasik performed.
12. How safe are the retainers?
Orthokeratology is very safe and FDA approved. In fact it is a great alternative to eye surgery, because it is far safer and less invasive. You can read more about the safety of the ortho-k lenses on our orthokeratology studies page.
13. How much does ortho-k cost?
Contacts for otho-k cost more than normal contacts, and because of this fittings for lenses will cost more. Fittings for lenses may also take longer, because patient’s corneas must be evaluated and their cornea must be mapped. Furthermore, it is recommended for patients to be seen the following day after their initial dispense, then a week from the start date, than after one month, three months, and six months. Cost for ortho-k does not just come from the lenses themselves, but also from the doctor’s skill, staff training, patient’s refractive error, and the complexity of individual cases. The cost most importantly comes from the value of orthokeratology. This procedure is far less invasive, and the gradual and small changes it makes will create large differences in your eyesight without having to wear eye gear during the day.
14. Why ortho-k?
Orthokeratology is far less invasive than lasik, and it costs much less. It can be used for people who are too young to have lasik performed and is a totally reversible procedure. There is no pain and far less risk in the orthokeratology procedure. Some results are even better than surgery outcomes. The gradual and small changes that the ortho-k lenses make will make big differences in your vision. And in fact ortho-k has even been shown to slow the progression of myopia. Ortho-k will make your life much more convenient by not having to wear contacts or glasses during the day, and will give you the improved vision you have been hoping for.