It still surprises me how many patients I see that have never heard of orthokeratology. At Envision Optical we have been offering orthokeratology or Ortho-K vision correction therapy for over ten years. Hundreds of Gold Coast residents have benefited from the freedom of seeing clearly all day without glasses or contact lenses. When we started the treatment, it was only available for low to moderate degrees of myopia. With advances in technology in both eye scanning and mapping, and also lens design, a greater range of prescriptions has been added to the ortho-k treatment ranges over the last decade. This means that we can now offer Gold Coast and Tweed Heads residents Ortho-K therapy for most prescription types, even reading glasses or multifocal correction!
Here are the top 5 questions I get asked in my practice.
1) What is Orthokeratology?
Orthokeratology (ortho-k), involves the use of specially designed rigid gas-permeable (RGP) contact lenses to alter the shape of the cornea in order to reduce or correct myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism. It has been practised in the USA for 35 years, but the results were quite variable and unpredictable. However, in the last ten years new technology has become available to accurately map the corneal shape and manufacture lenses that will achieve a controlled and precise reduction in the eye’s optical imperfection. In addition, new developments in lens materials have been made that enable safe overnight wear to be possible. The technique of Ortho-k is now a safe, viable and reversible alternative to refractive surgery. The cornea, whilst being mouldable, always returns to its original shape if lens wear is stopped. For this reason, lenses are always worn nightly, or alternate nights after the ideal corneal shape has been achieved in order to retain the effect.
2) Why Have Ortho-K Done?
The main purpose of Ortho-K is to be free of both spectacles and contact lenses for the majority, or more typically, all waking hours. The freedom from any artificial aid appeals to spectacle and contact lens wearers and is ideal for sportspeople, those who work in dusty or dirty environments or people who find spectacles and conventional contact lenses inconvenient. In addition, those who need to have a certain degree of uncorrected vision to satisfy their employers or a licensing body (e.g. pilots, police) can also be helped by Ortho-K. Most patients wear the lenses overnight and remove them on awakening, although some patients wear them solely during the day.
3) Is Everyone Suitable for Ortho-K?
No. The procedure works best up to a maximum of 7 dioptres of myopia , +4.00 D of hyperopia and 4.00 D of astigmatism. Prescriptions above this may be reduced, but total correction is not usually possible. In addition there are several unknown factors for each individual; the complexity of the corneal shape and the response of the cornea itself. Thus the speed of corneal moulding from one individual to the next will vary. Whilst the success rate is very high, total success cannot be guaranteed due to these factors.
4) What Does the Initial Visit Involve?
The initial assessment appointment includes a full eye examination and computerised corneal topographical mapping. This gives the optometrist a chance to assess both the general condition and health of the eyes and also to determine the likely effect of the procedure in that individual. Ortho-K contact lenses, made from highly oxygen permeable rigid material, are then fitted using the results of the corneal map to gently reshape the cornea towards less curvature.
5) Does Ortho-K Have Any Advantages Over Laser Surgery (LASIK)?
- No ethical surgeon will treat a patient until they are at least 21 years old
- The prescription does not need to be stable for 1-2 years before undergoing treatment
- It does not cause the permanent hazy vision experienced by some patients following laser surgery caused by scarring
- Changes in prescription over time can be dealt with without further surgery
- The procedure is reversible (laser is not)
- There is a very significant understanding of the effects of contact lens wear on the cornea, because of the many years of lens use. LASIK long term effects are not completely understood.
- There is no post-operative pain or recovery period.
- Ortho-K is significantly cheaper.
- Ortho-K does not preclude surgery in the future.
If you would like a life free from daytime glasses then make an appointment to see one of our qualified optometrists for an initial assessment.
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