Orthokeratology – otherwise known as ortho-K – can reduce or reverse myopia – otherwise known as short-sightedness – via special kind of contact lenses that can be worn at night, as the patient sleeps. The lenses work to shape the eye – specifically the cornea, or surface of the eye – so that the cornea flattens. A warped or too-curved cornea causes the myopia, so re-shaping the cornea to a normal form is a way to address the structural cause of myopia in the eye.
Light enters a normal eye and is focused by the cornea, projecting onto the retina, located at the back of the eye. If the curvature of the cornea is not correctly formed, focus is lost and won’t project accurately onto the retina. When the cornea is too flat, a person will experience short-sightedness, and vice versa: a too round cornea will produce short-sightedness. To reverse myopia, the ortho-K lenses flattens the cornea as you sleep.
Who is suitable for ortho-K?
When it comes to Ortho-K, patient selection is crucial. A viable candidate must be at least ten years old, though children as young as eight can be fitted with Ortho-K contacts if they are mature enough. An optometrist will need to make that assessment for you. Short-sightedness measuring between -1.00 and -6.00 is suitable for this treatment, as is astigmatism. It’s also important for your optometrist to check the shape of the cornea, to determine whether it is suitable for overnight wearing.
Premium eye care requires your optometrist to be confident in your child’s ability to care adequately for the Ortho-K lenses we prescribe. There are certain hygiene requirements that must strictly adhered to. This explains why there is a minimum age set for the prescription of Ortho-K. Assessing the maturity of the candidate is important, for this reason. This might not only be a matter of the age of the prospective patient but will be based on an individual assessment.
This is also why parental cooperation regarding Ortho-K lenses is crucial. Parental supervision can aid children when inserting the lenses, when they are removed, as well caring generally for the lenses (there are regimens the patient will need to follow for the treatment to be effective). Therefore, it’s important that parents are available to provide this care to children, that their work schedules, interstate or overseas travel does not hamper the ability to aid the child in Ortho-K treatment.
What will the initial consultation involve?
The first step is a comprehensive eye examination to ensure that the prescription of your child’s glasses is up-to-date. It will also make sure that their eyes are healthy. This is followed by a scan the cornea – (surface of the eye) using a corneal topographer, which is a machine used to determine which treatment is the most appropriate. This equipment is specialised and cannot be found in many optometry practices.
Are there any risks with Ortho-K?
Ortho-K uses contact lenses, meaning that there will be some possible risks involved, including a minority chance of corneal infection. Proper handling can reduce this risk. Hand washing and lens cleaning are also important. Regular check ups are also important to make sure that the Ortho-K is safe. Eye health for children and teenagers is crucial, so we take this quite seriously.
How many appointments are needed?
An appointment after the initial consultation will be required to fit the lens on the eye. In this consultation, an optometrist will also teach you how to insert and remove the lenses. Appointments are then made as necessary, based on each patient’s case. Please note that lens-parameter changes will be quoted in the fee.
How long do ortho-K contact lenses last?
Proper care and cleaning are both essential with lenses. They can last between three years and 12 months. During treatment, it’s important to change lenses periodically as the eye changes shape and / or the prescription changes.
Does ortho-K really work?
Ortho-K has proved very successful. With an experienced practitioner, your child or teenager can find relief for their symptoms, with a method that is less intrusive than glasses wearing. This is particularly good for kids who struggle with disposable contact lenses, wanting to play sports or other activities. Ortho-K has been used in optometry practices for some time, though it was far less successful when it was first used. Better technology with ortho-K has
Does ortho-K slow down myopia progression?
Ortho-K also works to slow down or halt the progression of short-sightedness and this is what has driven its huge popularity in places like East Asia where there is an epidemic of myopia. By flattening the cornea each night, it keeps the eye seeing clearly without glasses for longer.
What do I do next?
If you think ortho-K might be useful for your child, book in for an initial consultation and we can assess the suitability of the therapy for your child. We will perform a comprehensive examination of the eye and discuss the best option for your child.