Global Insight

Perfect vision without spectacles, contacts or laser correction seems too good to be true, but it is the reality for many patients requiring vision correction, whose practitioners have introduced them to Orthokeratology (Ortho-k). Working along the same principles as orthodontics, the procedure involves wearing a specially designed pair of gas permeable lenses overnight and removing them upon awakening. The lenses gently mould the cornea (front surface of the eye) into the correct shape required to provide the wearer with perfect vision during the day, without any other correction. The effect is temporary and so the lenses need to be worn each night, but it means that it is totally reversible and so if the patient decides to cease using Ortho-k or decides to go for laser surgery at a later date, the cornea will return to normal within a very short period of time.

ortho-k_lens
Ortho-K lens on eye with Fluorescent dye to show fitting.

Another intriguing benefit for younger short-sighted patients is the fact that Ortho-k appears to slow down the progression of myopia (short-sightedness). This is particularly important for practitioners around the world at the present time, because the world is facing what has been called a “myopia epidemic”. More and more children in developed and developing countries are becoming short-sighted and practitioners are desperate to find a remedy for the progression of the condition that can cause significant problems in later life. To date, Ortho-k is providing better results than any other method currently under investigation.

Because of this, the average age of wearers that these lenses are fitted to, is just 12 years.

At the other end of the scale, older contact lens wearers whose eyes are becoming dry and lenses become uncomfortable towards the end of the day’s wear, are finding that they can see all day in comfort by switching to this modality. Even bifocal and multifocal designs are available for those patients who need additional help with reading.

Ortho-k works best for short-sightedness with limited amounts of astigmatism. Some fitters are achieving limited success with long-sighted patients, but in the main prescriptions between -1.00 and -5.00 with astigmatism up to -1.50 can be fitted fairly routinely.

At present only specialist practitioners are supplying these lenses, but a local search should provide details of a practitioner near you.

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