Orthokeratology, or Ortho-K, the Latest Non Invasive Corneal Correction Therapy Orthokeratology, also referred to as Ortho-K or Corneal Refractive Therapy, is the use of a gas permeable contact lens worn for only portions of the day or at night to improve vision through the reshaping of the patient’s cornea. As a non surgical treatment, orthokeratology uses precisely shaped, reverse geometry, rigid gas permeable contact lenses to temporarily reshape the cornea and ease or eliminate myopia (nearsightedness) so that patients can see better at distance without wearing eye glasses or contact lenses for long periods of the day.
Some of the advantages to orthokeratology are that it is a non invasive, non surgical correction method. It is available to a high number of patients. It quickly gives a patient freedom from constant wearing of corrective lenses – either eye glasses or contacts – without surgery such as LASIK, which is laser assisted refractive surgery for correcting myopia and astigmatism. Orthokeratology, as a non invasive treatment, can be re-adjusted as the patient’s eyes and vision change over time; whereas LASIK may have to be repeated a few times over a patient’s lifetime as those natural changes occur.
The costs of Ortho-K are generally more than the basic cost of contact lenses or glasses, and insurance
companies may or may not fully cover these procedures as they are considered elective procedures. In most cases, however, at least partial insurance coverage is allowed up to the normal costs associated with eye glasses or contact lenses.
What is the process?
The process of treating a patient with orthokeratology involves first measuring the patient’s eye refraction which tells you the amount of nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism the patient has. The next step involves digitally mapping the shape of the forward surface of the patient’s eyes with a corneal topographer.
Armed with the digital map of your eyes and the amount of your prescription to be reversed, your eye doctor will design the corneal shape and special contacts will be manufactured to those precise specifications.
Your Ortho-K contacts will initially be worn for approximately eight hours each day until proper correction is achieved and your vision is improved. In some cases, your eye doctor will prescribe a wearing schedule that includes wearing the custom lenses while you sleep. Many times, after the vision correction is achieved, the lenses need only be worn a few hours per day in order to keep the cornea reshaping correction. Of course, the actual wearing schedule will depend on the condition of your eyes and the level of correction necessary to obtain optimal vision.
Who is orthokeratology best for?
The procedure of orthokeratology, or Ortho-K, is best for those who are too young for LASIK and for those whose eye prescriptions are still changing. It’s an especially useful procedure for young people actively involved in a regular sports regimen where wearing contact lenses may limit their activity in the sports.
Those best suited for orthokeratology are those with nearsightedness less than -4.00 diopters and astigmatism of less than -1.50 diopters. To find out of you might be eligible for this process, you can check your latest eye prescription for clues.
In essence, orthokeratology is a treatment designed for patients who do not want refractive surgery and are content with wearing contact lenses – just not all the time. This safe, non invasive method for improving vision can be a great alternative to constantly wearing corrective lenses or refractive surgery.