Imagine waking up one morning, reaching for your eyeglasses, and then realizing you don’t need them — because your nearsightedness improved overnight. Believe or not, that’s possible when you choose innovative treatment with orthokeratology.
Our team at In Focus Vision Center & Eyecare proudly fits patients for orthokeratology, giving them the ability to correct their nearsightedness as they sleep using specialized contact lenses. Here’s everything you need to know about orthokeratology.
Cause of nearsightedness
Nearsightedness (myopia) is a refractive error that makes objects in the distance look blurry, while you can clearly see close-up objects. This vision problem develops due to:
The cornea is the outermost part of your eye, a clear, dome-shaped structure that protects your eyes from dust and is responsible for 65-75% of your eye’s focusing power. Many patients think the lens is primarily responsible for focusing light onto the retina in the back of your eye, but the fact is that the bulk of the work is done by the cornea.
To do its job, the cornea must be nearly perfectly round, because this shape is needed to accurately bend (refract) light and focus it on the center of the eye’s lens. Nearsightedness develops when the cornea’s curve is too steep, a refractive problem the lens can’t correct. As a result, light focuses in front of rather than directly on the retina.
Nearsightedness may also occur when the eyeball is too long. Your cornea and lens can work properly, yet incoming light focuses in front of the retina.
Importance of controlling nearsightedness
Sure, you want to correct your nearsightedness so that you can see clearly, but you’ll also want to think about the need for controlling the problem. The purpose of myopia control — and an important benefit of orthokeratology beyond improving vision — is to prevent nearsightedness from getting worse.
Nearsightedness occurs in childhood and tends to progressively worsen throughout their adolescent growth spurt. Although the condition usually stabilizes in the 20s, some patients can have progressive worsening during their 20s or early 30s. Orthokeratology can help slow down myopia’s progression.
How orthokeratology improves nearsightedness
Orthokeratology, called ortho-k for short, is an innovative treatment using gas-permeable contact lenses to correct nearsightedness. You wear the contact lenses while you sleep at night. During that time, gentle pressure from the contacts gently reshapes the cornea, flattening it just enough to improve your vision.
When you take the contacts out in the morning, you can see throughout the day without wearing eyeglasses or regular contact lenses. You simply put the contacts back in at night to maintain your new vision.
You may have heard that you shouldn’t wear contact lenses at night. However, breathable gas-permeable contact lenses are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to be worn overnight. They allow enough oxygen to pass through the lens to keep your cornea healthy. They’re also rigid enough to produce corneal reshaping.
What to expect during orthokeratology treatment
The team at In Focus Vision Center begins by measuring the curvature of each cornea using a painless and quick procedure to create a map of its surface. You may be fitted with ortho-k lenses at the same time if the lenses available in the office work for your eyes. Otherwise, we’ll need to custom order ortho-k lenses.
Orthokeratology treatment typically includes wearing a series of contact lenses that gradually reshape your cornea to improve the refractive error. Most of our patients need to wear three pairs of contacts to achieve optimal vision correction, then they’ll continue to wear the appropriate lens to maintain improvement.
Your vision may be good enough to go without glasses after one or two overnight ortho-k treatments. But depending on the severity of your nearsightedness, it could take a few weeks to reach optimal correction. If necessary, we may recommend glasses with a lesser prescription to wear during the day.
Although vision improvement following overnight ortho-k treatment may last for a day or two, possibly longer, the contacts should be used every night to sustain your vision.
Results you may achieve with orthokeratology
Here at In Focus Vision Center, our goal with ortho-k treatment is to help you reach normal 20/20 vision, but most patients can count on correcting their vision to 20/40 or better.
In a clinical study for one type of ortho-k contacts, 93% of the patients achieved 20/32 vision or better and two-thirds reached 20/20 or better. Studies conducted for another brand reported that 95% achieved vision of 20/40 or better and almost three-quarters of patients reached 20/20.
We’ve worked with many patients, properly fitting their ortho-k lenses and helping them improve nearsightedness while they sleep. To learn whether you’re a good candidate, call our office in Piscataway, New Jersey, or book an appointment online.