Can Ortho-K Contact Lenses Correct Myopia Overnight?

March 22, 2024

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Have you ever wondered if there’s an easy way to correct your short-sightedness and reduce myopia? It might sound too good to be true but let me introduce you to Ortho-K contact lenses – a revolutionary solution that could transform the way you see the world, quite literally, overnight.

Unlike conventional lenses that you wear during the day, Ortho-K lenses are specially designed to be worn while you sleep. Yes, you heard that right – while you sleep! It’s like a magic trick for your eyes, except it’s backed by science and more than 30 years of successful implementation.

If you or members of your family are tired of the daily hassles that sometimes come with wearing glasses or managing contact lenses, then Ortho-K might just be the answer you’ve been looking for. Imagine waking up in the morning with clear vision, without the need for any eyewear throughout the day! Picture the convenience, and the freedom and confidence in how you see the world.

But before we go further, let me introduce myself. I’m Damon Ezekiel, owner and principal optometrist at Ezekiel Eyes. Our practice has been providing eye care to citizens of Perth for three generations! Today, my team includes talented young optometrist Rhiannon Richer, and together we take a special interest helping all our patients achieve better vision and the best possible eye health.

Let me share with you a story about one of my patients who struggled with short-sightedness (myopia) before discovering Ortho-K. This 17-year-old student had been wearing glasses since she was a child and was frustrated with the limitations they imposed on her active lifestyle. She loved swimming and playing sports, but her eyewear always got in the way. She heard about Ortho-K and decided to give it a try. Fast forward a few weeks, and she couldn’t believe the difference it made in her life. Not only did she no longer need to wear glasses during the day, but she also felt more confident and free to pursue her passions without any visual barriers holding her back.

If this story resonates with you, then it’s time to take the next step. Schedule an appointment with a professional optometrist, like Rhiannon or myself, to discover how Ortho-K contact lenses could benefit you.

And if you are just here because you want to learn more about this revolutionary approach to eye care, keep reading!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Worn overnight: Ortho-K contact lenses are designed to be worn while you sleep, reshaping the cornea to correct myopia and provide clear vision without the need for glasses or daytime contacts.
  • Corneal refractive therapy: The name of the process whereby the lenses gently reshape the cornea, effectively correcting refractive errors like myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism.
  • Low risk vision correction: · Despite the initial adjustment period and the need for regular follow-ups and proper lens care, Ortho-K offers a reversible, adaptable, and safe solution for a wide range of refractive errors, extending beyond myopia correction and also providing an excellent option for Ezekiel Eyes dry eyes patients.

 

The Science Behind Ortho-K Contact Lenses

Let’s explore orthokeratology, or Ortho-K, and its scientific foundation in vision correction.

Ortho-K utilises specially designed contact lenses worn overnight to reshape the cornea, the eye’s clear front surface. This method addresses refractive errors like myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism.

The lenses are made of highly oxygen-permeable materials and are custom-designed to gently apply pressure to specific corneal areas while sleeping. This pressure temporarily alters the cornea’s shape. This controlled reshaping allows for clear vision throughout the day without glasses or daytime contacts.

The appeal of Ortho-K especially applies to individuals with active lifestyles, people with dry eyes or professionals requiring excellent vision without glasses or contacts.

Long term studies have confirmed the efficacy, predictability and safety of long-term orthokeratology. A 2022 academic paper found that after wearing Ortho-K lenses for at least a year, 88.7% of children and 95.9% of adults had the expected improvement in their vision.

Want to know more about how orthokeratology can be a game changer in vision management? Watch the following video by Dr Joseph Allen.

 

Ortho-K for Myopia Management

Corneal reshaping is effective in myopia management through its impact on eye growth and development, especially during childhood and adolescence.

Studies suggest that myopia progression is linked to changes in eyeball shape and elongation due to genetic and environmental factors. By reshaping the cornea, there is evidence that Ortho-K may counteract eyeball elongation, slowing myopia progression over time.

This is crucial for childhood myopia, which is on the rise due to increased “near vision” activities like reading and screen time. Early intervention with Ortho-K not only corrects immediate vision problems for kids, but also potentially reduces the risk of high myopia and associated complications later in life, for example:

  • Increased Risk of Retinal Detachment: Advanced myopia significantly elevates the risk of retinal detachment, a serious condition where the retina pulls away from its normal position, potentially leading to vision loss if not treated promptly.
  • Development of Glaucoma: Individuals with advanced myopia are at a higher risk of developing glaucoma, a group of eye conditions that damage the optic nerve, crucial for vision, often due to high eye pressure.
  • Myopic Maculopathy: Advanced myopia can lead to myopic maculopathy, a condition characterised by degenerative changes in the macula, the part of the retina responsible for sharp, central vision, causing vision impairment.
  • Cataracts Formation: People with advanced myopia have a greater likelihood of developing cataracts, a clouding of the eye’s lens that leads to a decrease in vision, at an earlier age than individuals without myopia.

Ortho-K Lenses and Safety

Orthokeratology has a rich history dating back decades, evolving into sophisticated lenses available today.

Regulatory bodies ensure Ortho-K lenses meet strict safety and efficacy standards, providing patients with confidence. When used correctly under an optometrist’s guidance, Ortho-K lenses are generally considered safe.

Surgical options like LASIK or PRK offer permanent corneal reshaping but carry risks and limitations, such as complications and candidacy restrictions. An impressive feature of Ortho-K is its reversibility. Unlike most surgical procedures, Ortho-K offers flexibility and adaptability. If discontinued, the cornea gradually returns to its original shape, restoring natural vision.

Like all types of contact lens usage, there are certain risks involved. The primary concern is the risk of eye infections, specifically microbial keratitis, which is an infection and inflammation of the cornea, the transparent front part of the eye.

The incidence of microbial keratitis among Ortho K users is roughly 13 in 10,000 users annually, translating to a minimal annual risk of about 0.0013%.

Therefore, the likelihood of experiencing a severe infection from Ortho K lenses is notably low, especially when the lenses are properly fitted by a qualified professional and used responsibly. In Australia, where eye care specialists are subject to strict regulations, the vast majority of Ortho K users report no serious issues over many years of use.

Customization: The Key to Effective Ortho-K Treatment

Corneal topography, an advanced imaging technique, maps the cornea’s surface in detail, guiding the design of personalized Ortho-K lenses. By analyzing corneal data, we create lenses that exert precise pressure, reshaping the cornea optimally.

Custom-designed Ortho-K lenses can address various vision correction needs, from mild to severe myopia, astigmatism, and irregular corneas. They offer benefits like improved visual acuity and reduced dependence on glasses or daytime contacts, enhancing overall vision quality, even in challenging conditions.

Ezekiel Eyes priorities customisation in all our patients receiving Ortho-K treatment, employing advanced technology and expertise to deliver personalised care.

Contact lenses and vision correction while you sleep

 

Incorporating Ortho-K into Your Life

You’ll probably need an adjustment period in order to successfully incorporate Ortho-K into your life. Initially, you might experience mild discomfort or an awareness of the contact lenses as your eyes adapt to the contact lenses, but this typically subsides within a few days. With consistent wear, vision clarity improves gradually, usually within a few nights. Follow your Ezekiel Eyes optometrist’s advice on wearing schedules and lens care for optimal results.

Regular follow-up appointments are essential for monitoring eye health and adjusting treatment as needed. Proper lens care, including cleaning, disinfecting, and timely replacement, is crucial for maintaining clear vision and preventing complications.

Despite the initial adjustment, the benefits of Ortho-K, such as clear vision without glasses or daytime contacts, outweigh the effort.

Ortho-K: Beyond Myopia Correction

Ortho-K lenses extend beyond myopia correction, catering to various refractive errors like hyperopia, astigmatism, and presbyopia. Recent advancements in design and technology have broadened their effectiveness. Although traditionally used for myopia control, Ortho-K lenses now address a wider range of refractive errors by custom-designing lenses to match corneal irregularities.

For treatment of presbyopia, Ortho-K lenses offer a unique solution through monovision, correcting one eye for distance and the other for near vision. This eliminates the need for reading glasses or bifocals. Ortho-K’s adaptability makes it a versatile choice for individuals seeking clear, comfortable vision without glasses or daytime contacts.

In practice, Ortho-K has provided effective vision correction for patients of all ages and refractive needs. From children with myopia to adults with presbyopia, Ortho-K offers a reversible, safe, and adaptable solution.

Conclusion

It’s crucial to approach vision correction with informed decision-making and a thorough understanding of all available options. Whether you’re considering Ortho-K, LASIK, or traditional glasses or contacts, taking the time to explore each option and consult with a qualified optometrist can help you make the best choice for your vision and lifestyle.

If you’re intrigued by the possibilities of Ortho-K lenses or have questions about how they could benefit you, I invite you to schedule a consultation with our optometry team at Ezekiel Eyes. We are here to provide personalized guidance and support every step of the way, from initial assessment to ongoing care and follow-up.

Scheduling an appointment with us is straightforward and hassle-free. Simply give us a call at (08) 9386 3620, and our friendly staff will be happy to assist you in booking a convenient time for your consultation.

Alternatively, you can visit our website and click the “Book an Appointment” button to schedule online at your convenience.

optometrist-damon-ezekiel

In addition to owning and managing Ezekiel Eyes, Damon is a contact lens consultant to various research organisations. He regularly lectures and conducts workshops in contact lens practice throughout Australia, Asia and the United States. Damon graduated from the University of NSW with a Bachelor of Optometry in 1989. He is now married with two children and enjoys running, hockey, swimming, piano, travelling and trekking.

Damon’s professional associations include:
President of the International Society of Contact Lens Specialists
Practising Fellow of the Scleral Lens Education Society
Fellow of the Cornea & Contact Lens Society of Australia
Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry
Member of Optometry Australia
Member of the Orthokeratology Society of Australia
Member of Alcon Australia advisory panel