Orthokeratology, Myopia and the Case of Overnight Vision Correction
Let’s begin with “Myopia.” Exactly what is it? Myopia is the medical term for “nearsightedness,” a condition affecting nearly three million Americans a year, where a refraction error of the cornea hinders light to bend properly, making objects far away appear blurry. While this condition is technically chronic, recent advancements in the eye industry have made it possible for people with low Myopia to temporarily correct their vision through a process called Orthokeratology, or “Ortho-k.”
Orthokeratology—What is It?
Orthokeratology is a form of reversible, refractive correction involving the overnight use of gas-permeable contact lenses to reshape the contour of the cornea while you sleep. These oxygen-intense, “breathable” lenses work to temporarily reverse the effects of Myopia during the night so the wearer can experience clear vision the following day—without the use of glasses or contacts. Ortho-k is used primarily to slow the progression of mild Myopia in adults and children, although it can aid in the temporary correction of low-degree astigmatism, hyperopia, and presbyopia as well.
The Orthokeratology Process
Orthokeratology involves a three-step process: 1) the initial examination, where your optometrist or ophthalmologist will use a Topograph to determine the refraction error of the cornea, 2) the fitting, which may happen on the same day, where your eye care professional will select a series of up to three strengths of custom Ortho-k prescription contacts, and 3) the one-to-two-week treatment phase where candidates use their prescription contacts while sleeping for at least six to eight consecutive hours each night.
Candidates will wear disposable soft lenses or glasses throughout the day during the correction phase. On completion of the treatment, only the prescribed overnight contacts need to be worn. Occasionally, candidates experience mild glaring and haloes around bright light. Remember, there is always the risk of infection without proper eye and lens care, so practice good hygiene and schedule routine follow-up eye appointments!
Why Choose Orthokeratology?
For those with mild or moderate Myopia, Ortho-k is a great option, especially for sports-related activities or when working in environments containing debris or dust. Ortho-k can also be an effective pre-LASIK treatment that can temporarily stall the need for corrective eye surgery. In addition, the fast, painless and safe process makes Ortho-k a practical solution for children who have Myopia.
How Costly is Ortho-k?
Unfortunately, most insurances do not cover the total cost of Ortho-k. Additionally, costs will vary depending on your eye doctor and your unique prescription. The general, two-set lens and appointment package can range anywhere from $900 to $1,800.
Am I a Candidate for Ortho-k?
The best candidates for Orthokeratology are children between the ages of eight and 12 who have progressive Myopia. If early stages of nearsightedness are caught soon enough, Ortho-k can sometimes help with restoring vision in children, because the custom lenses “mold” the eyes overnight to hinder or encourage the growth of cells. Ortho-k also works well with adolescents and young adults with mild or moderate Myopia, or for adults under the age of 40 who aren’t interested in LASIK or other eye corrective surgery. If you suffer from Dry Eye Syndrome or have severe Myopia, Ortho-k is not recommended.
Ask Your Doctor
If you have questions or concerns about Ortho-k, schedule an appointment with your eye care professional. He or she will be able to help you determine your candidacy, costs, benefits, and risks of the process.
The Right Age for Contacts
Parents spend many years looking forward to a time when their children will be more independent. It’s difficult to care for one or more little people and still care for yourself! When children start growing into teenagers and young adults, parents often agonize over when their children are ready for these newer and greater responsibilities. One question we are often asked is, “What is the right age for contacts?”
As you can imagine, there is no definitive answer. It depends on the child. Physically, even young children are able to wear contacts, but are not ready to handle the responsibility of proper eye care. Some babies can wear contact lenses from birth as part of a treatment plan or vision correction process. Many elementary and middle school children have to continue developing to understand and practice proper procedures, but a surprising number can perform the tasks without incident.
Can Children Learn to Use Contact Lenses?
When studied, 90 percent of children in a group of eight to 11 year olds were able to use daily disposable contact lenses with little to no trouble.* Even though many parents won’t consider contact lenses for their children until they are teenagers, clearly younger children can learn proper hygiene and usage of contact lenses.
If you are considering contact lenses for your child, talk to Drs. John and Austin Mason about how they handle other responsibilities. Does he or she need regular reminders to wash their hands, close doors or containers, or to provide other kinds of self-care? If yes, your child may need some more time before learning how to use contact lenses. If you feel your child is mature enough to complete everyday self-care tasks, remembers to wash their hands, and will practice putting lenses in and taking them out carefully, they may be ready to try.
Why Should Children Try Contact Lenses?
On average, many eye care professionals begin to encourage contact lens wear between the ages of 11 and 14. Not everyone enjoys wearing contacts, but it’s a good idea to let children try. By giving them an opportunity to try contacts early, they are more likely to build the skills needed to place and remove contacts with ease. Adults who try contact lenses later in life are still capable of learning, but often take extra time and don’t enjoy the novelty of contact lenses like younger patients do.
Still, some patients always prefer to wear glasses no matter their age, and that’s okay! Having options is great, so we are more than happy to help your child learn about wearing contact lenses. If you would like to speak with someone about getting contact lenses for your child, contact us for a consultation. We can provide information on getting an exam, lens fitting, and follow-up to be sure you and your child are happy with the new eyewear.
If you would like to learn more, please call us at 727-344-0800 to schedule an appointment!
*”Daily disposable contact lens wear in myopic children.” Optometry and Vision Science. Vol. 81, No. 4 (April 2004); pp. 255-259.
Types of Contact Lenses
Millions of people wear contact lenses to help them see clearly. We’ve seen many advancements in lens materials and designs over the years. If you have tried contacts in the past, but stopped due to discomfort or poor quality, it may be time to try again. Drs. John and Austin Mason will help select the best option for your eyes! We have a variety of options for your specific type of prescription correction, tear production, lifestyle, and more. Contact us at Mason Eye Clinic to learn more.
Soft Contact Lenses
Soft contacts are the most common type of contact lenses and account for over 85% of contact lenses dispensed. Traditional soft contact lenses consist of soft plastic polymers and water. They allow oxygen to permeate through the lens material to the cornea. Most people find soft contact lenses comfortable. One advantage of soft contacts is that people assimilate to them almost right away. Soft lenses come in different prescriptions and designs depending on your budget and need. For some prescriptions, they do not offer the same visual acuity as gas permeable lenses or glasses. Drs. John and Austin Mason will help you determine which design is best for you.
Disposable Contact Lenses
Disposable contact lenses are soft lenses that are discarded on a daily, weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis. With regular replacement, protein deposits do not build up. Deposits can affect vision, comfort, and the health of the eyes. These lenses are convenient and low-maintenance compared to traditional soft lenses. It is important to replace disposable contacts as suggested to avoid eye infection. Disposable lenses are available in most prescriptions.
Extended Wear Contact Lenses
Extended wear contact lenses are gas-permeable or soft lenses designed for up to 30 days of continuous safe wear. They offer the convenience of not having to take them out at night, but there are risks. Sleeping in them poses a higher risk of infection, corneal ulcers, and abnormal blood vessel growth in the cornea. These lenses need more frequent follow-ups. Some doctors will not recommend extended wear lenses for these reasons.
Tinted or Cosmetic Contact Lenses
Tinted contact lenses are soft lenses that enable some patients to change the color of their iris (the colored part of the eye). These lenses are available in interesting colors and patterns. They can provide a subtle or dramatic change in the appearance of your eyes. They are not available for all prescriptions and are not suggested for everyday wear.
Hard Contact Lenses
Before the introduction of soft contact lenses, hard polymethyl methacrylate contact lenses were common. They did not allow for oxygen transfer to the cornea and often caused the cornea to swell. For this reason, hard contact lenses are obsolete.
Rigid Gas Permeable Lenses
Rigid Gas Permeable (RGP), or just Gas Permeable (GP) lenses are sometimes mistaken for old-fashioned lenses. The old hard contact lenses that people know are rarely used today. RGP lenses are more pliable, more comfortable, and they allow oxygen to the cornea. Gas permeable lenses also allow more oxygen to the cornea than traditional soft contact lenses. They do not change their shape when you blink or move your eyes because they are rigid. This means they offer sharper vision than soft contacts. They are much more durable than soft lenses. Because they do not contain water, proteins and lipids do not adhere to them like they can do with soft lenses. RGP lenses also come in many bifocal and multifocal designs.
The biggest disadvantage of RGP lenses is that patients need to get used to them. They are not immediately comfortable like soft lenses. RGP lenses take three to four days for patients to adapt to them. They need to be worn regularly (although not every day) to achieve optimal comfort. They are smaller in size so they can dislodge from the eye more easily than soft lenses.
Toric Contact Lenses
Toric contact lenses help correct astigmatism. They are available in both soft and gas-permeable designs. These lenses have one power that is vertical and another that is horizontal. There is a weight at the bottom, allowing the lenses to center correctly on the eye. Toric lenses are more difficult to fit. They generally require more time from the patient to determine their comfort. They may need additional fitting help from the doctor.
Bifocal Contact Lenses
Bifocal contact lenses, like bifocal glasses, have more than one power. This allows an individual to have clear vision in fields that are near and far. These lenses are available in both soft and gas-permeable designs. Another alternative to bifocal contacts is monovision correction. With these lenses, one eye is used for distance and the other eye for near or reading vision. Both of these lens types require more time from the doctor for fitting. Patients need to adapt to using one eye, depending on which distance they are viewing.
There are now more choices for contact lenses than ever before. While some individuals wear contact lenses without trouble, others have to try different types to find their perfect pair. Call our office today to schedule an appointment!