OrthoK is shorthand for orthokeratology. OrthoK is a FDA approved vision correction therapy by using a specially designed retainer contact lens that gently reshapes the curvature of the eye to improve vision. This is a revolutionary non-surgical procedure that eliminates the need for glasses or daytime contact lenses.
Patients who want to improve their eyesight and who are found to be good candidates for OrthoK are fitted with custom contact lenses that are worn at night while sleeping. You just put the specially fitted lenses in at bedtime, and when you awake, you will have clear, sharp, natural vision for your waking hours. You can think of orthokeratology like orthodontics. It’s somewhat like wearing braces for the eyes, but very gentle braces in the form of specially designed lenses.
Just as an orthodontist adjusts braces to straighten teeth, your orthokeratologist will use custom fabricated contact lenses to reshape your eyes until they have reached an optimum vision correction shape. OrthoK means better vision. Better vision overnight. It is ideal for active people who want freedom from wearing glasses or daytime contact lenses – without undergoing surgery. It is also ideal for children with myopia, also called nearsightedness.
It is also a great alternative to LASIK for those who don’t want the risk or are not ready for surgery.
How Does It Work?
When a person cannot see clearly, it is because their eye is too long, too short or the surface is misshaped. Images fail to reach or focus on the retina. This produces blurred or distorted vision.
In order to create a therapeutic lens, the surface of your eyes is mapped using a high tech instrument called a topographer. This allows your doctor to create a custom lens specifically designed for YOUR eye and its unique visual problems. This Ortho-K lens is manufactured using high-speed computer assisted lathes and made from an advanced highly oxygen permeable material which allows your eyes to breath overnight and maintain excellent health. This corneal reshaping lens has several specialized curves that reshape your cornea (the front surface of your eye). The tear film beneath this therapeutic lens continuously flows, across the corneal surface, resulting the shape. This improved shape focuses images directly on the retina. The result is crisp, clear vision upon waking and removing your lenses.
How Long Does It Take?
It can take from one to four weeks to achieve excellent vision. However, some people achieve this in as little as one day. The speed depends in part on your initial prescription.
During the first few days of the Ortho-K process while your cornea is being resculpted, your doctor may fit you with a temporary soft contact until excellent vision is achieved.
Is It Safe?
Ortho-K is a very safe and reversible procedure. The FDA approved it in 2002. However, as with any contact lens wear, there is a small risk, most typically a minor infection easily addressed by antibiotic drops. This risk is greatly minimized by adopting a regime of very careful cleaning and disinfecting, by wearing the lenses as prescribed by your doctor and by maintaining the necessary progress visits.