Non-Surgical Alternative to LASIK
Freedom from Contact Lenses and Glasses During the Day
Dr. Anderson and his staff are excited to offer Custom Orthokeratology, which involves the use of custom-designed and computer-engineered rigid gas-permeable contact lenses that re-shape the cornea to reduce or eliminate blurred vision during waking hours. These special contact lenses are applied to the cornea of each eye at bedtime and worn while sleeping. During sleep, the lenses gently re-shape the corneas to correct for nearsightedness (and small amounts of astigmatism). The lenses are removed the following morning, providing clear vision throughout the day without the hassle of wearing glasses or traditional contact lenses. Your corneas are highly elastic and will always return to their original shape if these therapeutic lenses are not worn.
This can be an effective alternative to LASIK eye surgery and can be a wonderful option for sports enthusiasts as well as people who work in occupations in which glasses and traditional contact lens wear is impractical or impossible.
What is Orthokeratology?
Orthokeratology, commonly called ortho-k, is a method used to correct myopia (nearsightedness) by wearing rigid gas permeable contact lenses overnight, so that no vision correction is needed during daytime hours.
Gas permeable (GP) lenses specialized for ortho-k are inserted at bedtime and worn as you sleep. Throughout the night, the lenses reshape your cornea gently so that your vision becomes clear on the following morning. The correction is temporary, and ideally no eyeglasses or contact lenses will be needed on the next day or two. In order to maintain sharp visual acuity on a daily basis, you need to wear the ortho-k reshaping lenses every night.
At present, two brands of ortho-k contact lenses are approved for use by the FDA. Paragon Vision Sciences produces “Corneal Refractive Therapy” (CRT), and Bausch and Lomb manufactures “Vision Shaping Treatment” (VST).
Candidates for Ortho-K
Ortho-k is very suitable for nearsighted people who are not appropriate candidates for vision correction surgery, such as children. Individuals of all ages with healthy eyes can try ortho-k, namely because it can be discontinued at any point without permanent effects to the eyes.
People who require vision correction and engage regularly in sports or work in extremely dusty, dirty environments will also appreciate the convenience of ortho-k.
Vision Results from Ortho-k
Success rates for ortho-k are generally higher for more mild vision prescriptions. The ideal goal is to provide 20/20 vision without any need for eyeglasses or contacts during the day.
According to FDA trials conducted on both CRT and VST lenses, more than 65% of ortho-k patients achieved 20/20 visual acuity. A whopping number of more than 90% of ortho-k patients achieved 20/40 vision or better (this is the legal requirement for driving without vision correction in most states). Consult with your eye doctor to find out if your vision prescription is within range for successful ortho-k treatment.
Note that although improvement in vision is generally reported within a day or two of wearing ortho-k overnight, the full effects may not be experienced until the lenses are worn for a few weeks. During this transition period, your vision will probably not be as crisp as it was with regular contacts or eyeglasses, and glare or halos around lights may be visible. Until ortho-k works fully, a temporary pair of eyeglasses may be required for specific actions, such as driving at night.
How Does Ortho-k Feel?
Although some people have trouble wearing regular gas permeable contact lenses during the day, ortho-k GP lenses are worn while sleeping – so discomfort and awareness of the lenses in your eyes is generally not an issue.
Is Ortho-k expensive?
Professional fitting for ortho-k requires a series of visits to your eye doctor. A number of pairs of contact lenses are also generally needed. GP lenses that are special for ortho-k are more costly than standard contacts. In sum, the fees for ortho-k add up to a higher total than regular contact lenses.
LASIK after Ortho-k
Refractive surgeries, such as LASIK, are possible after treatment with ortho-k lenses. Yet because ortho-k works to reshape your cornea, you are required to stop wearing the lenses for approximately several months before undergoing LASIK. This allows your eyes to return to their original shape.
It’s important to inform your LASIK surgeon if you’ve been wearing ortho-k lenses, and you will be advised as to how long of a wait is necessary before having the laser procedure.
What Are The Advantages of Custom Orthokeratology?
- Provides freedom from eyeglasses and contact lenses during active daytime hours
- No surgery is required! It is non-invasive
- It is reversible (LASIK and PRK surgeries are not)
- It is significantly less costly than LASIK and PRK
- It can be modified to enhance the effect if needed in the future
- It has been shown to stabilize myopia (nearsightedness progression) in many cases, including children who can often have significant progression of myopia during their school years
- It is safe for adults (and children who can demonstrate maturity and responsibility)
- It is a wonderful option for athletes, water-sports enthusiasts (swimming, kayaking, water skiing, etc.) and those who work in dusty environments
What Are The Disadvantages of Custom Orthokeratology?
- These custom lenses must be worn overnight, every night, to maintain the proper corneal shape and good vision
- Candidates should get at least 6 hours of sleep each night (7 or more hours is desirable) to achievethe optimum effect
- Not everyone is considered to be a good candidate for this technology (your prescription must fall within the possible range of treatment)
- Patients must be willing to fully cooperate and comply with the recommended wearing scheduleand necessary follow-up visits
Is Custom Orthokeratology New?
The concept of corneal reshaping is not new. However, the technology had not “caught up” with the concept until quite recently. Precision corneal mapping (using a state-of-the-art corneal topographer) combined with patented computer-designed, custom contact lenses have finally provided reliable and accurate results.
Is Custom Orthokeratology Permanent?
No, it is temporary. As long as you wear the contact lenses overnight as directed, you will maintain the desired result. If you stop wearing the contact lenses your vision will return to pre-treatment levels within several days. Most patients experience rapid improvement in their vision within the first few days of treatment and achieve optimal correction within one to three weeks.
Is Custom Orthokeratology Safe?
Yes. There is a small risk of infection involved with ANY contact lens wear. However, numerous studies have demonstrated this therapy to be safe and effective. Due to the unique character and complexity of each eye, not all patients are suitable candidates for this program.
How Do I Know If I Am A Good Candidate For Custom Orthokeratology?
Dr. Anderson will be happy to provide you with a complimentary consultation to determine your candidacy. If you have not had an eye examination within the past 12 months, Dr. Anderson will need to preform an examination to determine your current status. If you have had an eye examination within the past 12 months at another eye care practice, Dr. Anderson will need to be provided a copy of that examination to determine your suitability for this program.
Two of our staff members enjoy freedom from eyeglasses and contact lenses through Custom Orthokeratology! If you have any questions regarding this amazing technology, please call our office at (828) 692-2593 and ask for Lisa or Pam. They will be delighted to share their experiences with you.