Ortho-K Guide: Vision Correction Without Surgery

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Ortho-K Guide: Vision Correction Without Surgery

Ortho-K: A Comprehensive Guide

Ortho-K contact lens_emme_visioncare_harbourfront_centre

Orthokeratology, commonly referred to as Ortho-K, has emerged as a revolutionary approach to vision correction without the need for surgery. This non-invasive method, offered by EMME Visioncare, utilizes specially designed contact lenses, worn overnight, to gently reshape the cornea and provide clearer vision during the day. The technique has garnered attention for its potential to manage myopia and other refractive errors, offering an alternative for those who seek freedom from glasses and daytime contact lenses.

Key Takeaways:

  • Ortho-K is a non-surgical approach to correct vision by reshaping the cornea using specialized lenses.
  • It is particularly noted for its ability to manage myopia and other refractive errors.
  • The lenses are worn overnight and removed during the day, providing clear vision without the need for glasses or contact lenses.
  • Questions often arise regarding its safety, comfort, cost, and effectiveness in treating various eye conditions.

Table of Contents:


1. What is Ortho-K?

Ortho-K, or Orthokeratology, is a method of correcting vision that involves wearing rigid gas-permeable contact lenses overnight. These lenses, provided by EMME Visioncare, are custom-designed to gently reshape the cornea, the front surface of the eye, altering how light enters the eye and is focused on the retina. The result is clearer vision during the day without the need for glasses or contact lenses.

2. Who is Ortho-K For?

Ortho-K is primarily used to correct near-sightedness (myopia). While eyeglasses, regular contact lenses, LASIK, and PRK can also correct this vision problem, Ortho-K offers a non-surgical alternative for those who wish to be free from daytime corrective lenses. It's especially beneficial for athletes and those who find glasses or daytime contacts cumbersome.

Ortho-K is also recommended for children's vision correction. As vision can continue to change for some children into adulthood, LASIK and other vision correction surgeries aren't recommended until vision stabilizes. Although there's no concrete evidence, some studies suggest Ortho-K might slow down myopia progression in children.

3. How Does Ortho-K Work?

Ortho-K, or Orthokeratology, operates on a principle similar to dental braces. Just as braces apply pressure to teeth to alter their position, Ortho-K lenses exert gentle pressure on the cornea to modify its shape and enhance visual acuity. The cornea, a clear, dome-shaped window at the front of the eye, plays a pivotal role in the eye's focusing capability due to its flexible tissue. To tailor the Ortho-K lenses to an individual's eye, an optometrist at EMME Visioncare, will map and measure the cornea's surface using a corneal topographer. These lenses work by flattening the center of the cornea, changing the way light enters the eye. Made of rigid, gas-permeable material, they are robust enough to reshape the cornea while also permitting oxygen to pass through, ensuring the eye's health.

When the Ortho-K lenses are taken out, the cornea maintains its flattened shape temporarily, providing corrected vision without the necessity of glasses or day time contact lenses. However, this reshaping is not permanent. If the use of the lenses is halted, the cornea will gradually revert to its initial shape, leading to the return of the refractive error.

Orthok process

4. What is the Process of Fitting Ortho-K Lenses?

Achieving a successful ortho-k lens fit necessitates specialized equipment and expertise. In the majority of countries, an optometrist or eye doctor typically undertakes this procedure.

To determine one's suitability for ortho-k, it's essential to measure both the refraction (eye prescription) and the corneal shape profile (the clear dome at the eye's forefront). The corneal shape is gauged using a corneal topographer, an instrument that captures an image of a light pattern reflected on the eye. This image is then processed by computer software to create a simulated 3-dimensional representation of the cornea.

The computer-generated model of the cornea aids in determining the optimal ortho-k lens fit. For ortho-k lenses at EMME Visioncare, our optometrist crafts a bespoke ortho-k lens tailored just for you.

The meticulous lens selection and design process ensures that the ortho-k lens fits the eye seamlessly, much like a tailor-made suit. This method is so precise that even before the lens is placed on the eye, our optometrist can predict the likelihood of ortho-k's success.

If deemed appropriate, you'll be briefed on the necessary steps to finalize the lens fitting. Ortho-k fitting generally demands more appointments than standard daily soft contact lenses, primarily because ortho-k lenses are individually crafted.

The number of required visits for a successful ortho-k lens fit can fluctuate based on refraction and corneal shape. A typical schedule might include:

  • Initial Measurements: Refraction and eye assessments to facilitate lens ordering.
  • Lens Collection: Guidance on applying, removing, and maintaining ortho-k lenses.
  • Post-first Night: A check-up after the initial night of lens wear to ensure success and reiterate lens care. Early signs of a good fit might be evident, but the full impact is usually seen after a week of overnight wear.
  • One-week Check-up: This is when the full effect is typically observed, allowing the optometrist to evaluate if any lens adjustments are needed. Sometimes, the desired outcome might take longer, so don't be alarmed if results aren't immediate.
  • Subsequent visits hinge on the need for lens adjustments: It's crucial to recognize that ortho-k lenses are custom-made, and wearing them is essential to gauge the eye's response. As the optimal fit is approached, these appointments become less frequent.


5. Is the Ortho-K Lens Uncomfortable?

It's natural to assume that reshaping the eye might be painful. However, despite the eye's sensitivity, discomfort is typically minimal.

Ortho-k lenses are either tailor-made for an individual's eye or chosen to align perfectly with the eye's contours. This precision minimizes potential discomfort. Yet, for those new to ortho-k, there might be a fleeting sensation akin to having a speck of dust in the eye. This feeling arises from the upper eyelid detecting the lens.

In response, the eye might produce tears, mistaking the lens for a foreign object like dust. But this reaction is temporary. With time, most users find that the lenses become so comfortable they barely notice them.

To correlate, consider ortho-k lenses like a new pair of shoes. Initially, they might feel a tad snug or unfamiliar, but after a few days of wear, they mold to your feet, becoming almost second nature.


6. Is Ortho-K Treatment Irreversible?

Orthokeratology, commonly known as ortho-k, temporarily reshapes the cornea. However, its effects aren't lasting. Within a few days of discontinuing lens wear, the majority of the corneal changes begin to revert. This is because ortho-k primarily modifies the cornea's outermost layer. By compressing certain areas and allowing others to expand, the cornea conforms to the ortho-k lens's profile. Once the lens is removed, the cornea starts its journey back to its original shape.

To visualize this, consider the impression you leave on a couch cushion after sitting for an extended period. Over time, the cushion regains its shape. Similarly, with ortho-k, consistent overnight wear deepens the corneal changes, much like sitting in the same couch spot repeatedly. Yet, just as the cushion always bounces back, so does the cornea.

Compared to laser surgery, which permanently removes corneal tissue, ortho-k's temporary nature has its advantages. It can be halted anytime, allowing the eye to revert to its original form. Studies indicate that most ortho-k effects reverse within a week of ceasing lens wear. This impermanence is especially beneficial for children, as it provides the flexibility to adjust the lens design in response to their growing and changing eyes.

DurationTemporary and reversible.Effects wear off if lens wear is discontinued.
FlexibilityCan be adjusted or stopped at any time. Especially beneficial for children's changing eyes.Requires consistent wear to maintain the desired effect.
SurgeryNon-surgical method to correct vision.Doesn't offer a permanent solution like some surgical methods.
Daytime visionAllows for clear vision during the day without the need for glasses or contact lenses.Nighttime lens wear is mandatory to achieve this benefit.
SafetyLower risk compared to surgical procedures.Potential for lens-related complications or infections if not properly cared for.
CostGenerally less expensive than surgical vision correction methods.Ongoing costs for replacement lenses and contact lens solutions.
EffectivenessEffective for mild to moderate myopia and some cases of astigmatism.May not be suitable for those with extreme high myopia or certain corneal conditions.
ConvenienceElinimates the need for daytime wear of glasses or contact lenses for many users.Requires a commitment to nightly wear and proper lens care.
AdaptabilityCan be adapted as the user's vision changes over time.Initial adaptation period can be uncomfortable for some users.
Long-term healthSlow down the progression of myopia in children.Long-term effects are still being studies.

7. Can Ortho-K Lenses Help to Cure Myopia?

The increasing prevalence of myopia, commonly known as nearsightedness, among children is a growing concern for eye care professionals and parents alike. If left unchecked, myopia can lead to severe vision problems and other eye health complications as these children transition into adulthood.

Fortunately, the medical community is not without tools to combat this trend. From innovative eyewear solutions to fostering healthier visual habits, there are several strategies to slow down or even halt the progression of myopia. Among these, Orthokeratology, commonly referred to as Ortho-K, shines as a beacon of hope.

Ortho-K is not just another treatment; it's a revolution in myopia management. Studies consistently highlight its efficacy in slowing down the progression of myopia in children. But what makes Ortho-K stand out?

The magic lies in its mechanism. While the exact science behind it remains a topic of ongoing research, it's widely believed that Ortho-K lenses, which are worn overnight, reshape the cornea temporarily. This reshaping modifies how light is focused on the peripheral retina. This alteration is thought to influence the axial elongation of the eye, a primary driver behind myopia's progression.

Given the potential long-term complications of unchecked myopia, including an increased risk of retinal detachment, glaucoma, and even blindness, the importance of effective management cannot be overstated. Ortho-K offers a non-invasive, reversible, and evidence-backed approach to safeguarding our children's vision.

8. Is Ortho-K Safe?

Like all contact lenses, ortho-k lenses come with an inherent risk of infection due to their direct contact with the eye. The fact that ortho-k lenses are worn during sleep, when the eyes are closed, introduces an additional layer of risk. However, it's worth noting that ortho-k lenses are generally safer for overnight wear than regular soft contact lenses. One reason is that blinking acts as a natural cleaning and defense mechanism for our eyes. When we sleep, this protective action is absent, which can reduce the eye's defense against potential irritants.

That said, with proper care and hygiene, ortho-k lenses are safe to use.

The key to minimizing infection risk lies in diligent cleaning and handling practices. One crucial point to emphasize is the importance of keeping lenses and their associated equipment away from tap water. This cannot be stressed enough: never allow tap water to come into contact with any type of contact lenses, including ortho-k, or their accessories like cases or lens applicators.

9. Is it Difficult to Wear Ortho-K Lenses?

Contrary to what some might think, ortho-k lenses are among the more user-friendly contact lenses available. Their rigid composition makes them straightforward to pick up and handle, especially when compared to the more pliable soft contact lenses.

Their compact size, smaller than most soft lenses, often makes application to the eye a breeze. While this diminutive size might pose a slight challenge during removal, mastering a few simple lens removal techniques can quickly alleviate this concern.

One of the standout benefits of ortho-k lenses is their overnight wear. Once they're in place, you simply close your eyes and drift off to sleep, eliminating the daytime worry of a lens slipping out.

10. Can My Prescription be Fitted with Ortho-K?

While it's most frequently used to address myopia (short-sightedness), it's also effective for hyperopia (long-sightedness), astigmatism, and presbyopia (the age-related blurring of close vision that typically starts in our 40s).

For those with myopia, ortho-k is generally effective for up to -6.00D of myopia and up to -2.00D of astigmatism. This efficacy is supported by authoritative endorsements, such as the USA Food and Drug Administration (FDA) licensing for this prescription range.

While ortho-k can be employed for higher degrees of myopia, its success rate tends to taper off as the severity of myopia increases. It's essential to understand that the effectiveness of ortho-k varies based on individual eye characteristics.

Given these nuances, any stated suitability range should be viewed as a general guideline. For a definitive assessment of whether ortho-k is right for you or your child, it's best to consult an optometrist at EMME Visioncare.

11. Is Ortho-K a good choice for me?

Deciding on ortho-k involves weighing motivation, individual needs, and financial considerations.

Many find immense value in ortho-k lenses, especially given their potential to slow down myopia progression in children. However, initial commitment is crucial. The fitting process for ortho-k is typically lengthier than for soft contact lenses, and newcomers might find them slightly uncomfortable during the first few wears.

But adaptation is swift. Studies suggest that some individuals, who previously experienced dry eye symptoms with soft lenses, actually find ortho-k more comfortable, noting an improvement in their symptoms and a preference for ortho-k.

Financially, ortho-k demands a higher initial investment than daily wear lenses due to the extended consultation time and the individualized lens crafting. But given their durability, the costs might even out in the long run when compared to disposable lenses.

Typically, practitioners might request a full or partial payment once ortho-k is deemed suitable, with any remaining balance due upon collection of ortho-k lenses.

Beyond the financial aspect, personal preference plays a pivotal role. Ortho-k is a boon for active individuals who find daytime contact lenses cumbersome. For some, it's even a more comfortable alternative to regular daytime wear.

For parents, ortho-k offers peace of mind. The entire lens regimen, from wearing to maintenance, occurs at home, ensuring a controlled environment for their children's eye care.

Why Choose EMME Visioncare?

At EMME Visioncare, we're proud to offer state-of-the-art Orthokeratology (Ortho-K) services. Our dedicated team of eye care professionals is trained to provide personalized solutions, ensuring the best fit and comfort for your eyes.

Our commitment goes beyond just providing a service. We believe in educating our patients, guiding you through every step of the process, and ensuring you're well-informed about the benefits and care routines of Ortho-K.

Whether you're an active individual looking for a convenient vision solution, a parent considering Ortho-K for your child, or someone curious about this innovative approach to vision correction, EMME Visioncare is here to assist.

Visit us today and embark on a journey towards a clearer tomorrow. Your vision is our priority.

Relevant Videos and Links

Relevant Links from American Academy of Ophthalmology: