- What is orthokeratology and how does it work?
Orthokeratology, or ortho-k, is a treatment program allowing clear daytime vision without glasses or contact lenses. Rigid molds (similar to rigid gas permeable contact lenses) are worn while sleeping. This temporarily changes the contour of the eyes’ very front surface permitting uncorrected daytime vision. Sort of like “braces” for the eyes. Vision is very clear with the molds on, but they are only intended to be worn for a brief period before sleeping and after waking.
- How does the Ortho-K assist in treating nearsightedness, and astigmatism
By altering the front shape of the eye, we can change where light focuses on the back of the eye. This is basically what glasses, traditional contact lenses and LASIK all do. What a lot of people really like about ortho-k is that you don’t have to worry about glasses or contact lenses on during the day. This can be helpful for people with allergies, dry eyes, or who participate in certain sports or other activities. And, unlike LASIK, it doesn’t permanently change the eye.
- How does the Ortho-K slow the progression of childhood myopia.
Besides temporarily changing how light focuses at the center of the back of the eye, it also changes how light focuses more in the periphery of the back of the eye. This region controls signals to the eye to grow or not. Myopia occurs when the eye grows “too long”. Ortho-k changes focusing in this area so it sends the eye a “stop (or slow down)”, instead of a “grow”, signal.
- What is it about this particular technology that you find most exciting, or the component that made you feel you need to use this for your practice?
When I graduated from Optometry School there were no proven methods to affect the development of myopia. It’s only been 10, to at most, 15 years that ortho-k has been understood to have this effect (and especially over the last 5). At this same time, research has established the increased prevalence of myopia as well as the risks it poses to ocular health. Finally, recent technological improvements in ortho-k design, materials, and instrumentation to measure and monitor corneal shape, now allows us to know what we’re doing, how to do it, and why. It’s exciting watching a new field evolve. It’s especially exciting getting to do something we couldn’t do not very long ago; particularly something with such an important impact on so many people.
- What results can a patient expect from being treated with Ortho-k?
Patients can expect clear vision during the day without wearing glasses or contact lenses. It is appropriate for individuals of all ages, and best suited for those who are nearsighted, but not extremely so, and who do not have large amounts of astigmatism. Its myopia slowing effects make it an excellent choice for children. However, it is also a good choice, due to its convenience, once myopia has stopped progressing (usually by late teens to early twenties).
- Can you describe the patient experience when being treated with Ortho-K?
The greatest part of the experience is being able to see clearly without having glasses or contact lenses on. The first morning is an especially “eye opening” experience for many wearers.
- Do your patients appreciate the upgrade in technology?
So many people are unaware that this option exists and are fascinated when they learn about it. Parents love that technology has advanced to this level and can help their children. At any age, it’s exciting to see the 3D like topographical maps of the front of the eye, and how we can change their shape with ortho-k. Video images of the molds on the eye are also pretty neat.
- Who Is a good candidate for Orthokeratology? Are there specific patients for whom the use of Ortho-K is particularly helpful or useful? Why?
The best ortho-k candidates are children whose parents are nearsighted and concerned about the lifestyle and health consequences of myopia. Ortho-k is not risk-free, but neither is anything else. Sleeping with the rigid molds has the same chance of infection or irritation as sleeping with any other kind of contact lens. With otrho-k, though, parents are there to see how their child’s eyes look and feel in the evening when the molds go on, and in the morning when they come off. What’s best, they don’t have to worry about any misadventures with contact lenses during the day.
- Can you share a particular patient success story, in which by treating with Ortho-K, you were able to provide a patient with a solution which you would otherwise not have been able to provide?
Anyone who successfully wears ortho-k can see clearly without glasses or contact lenses, and without surgery. That solution can be provided no other way. Combining that with its myopia slowing effect, and it is truly unique.
- Why did you choose this supplier to purchase this solution from?
There is no single supplier for ortho-k molds. There are numerous designs, numerous highly oxygen permeable materials, and numerous manufacturers. Some brands can be ordered based on a few measurements from an eye exam, some from measurement and assessment of a “trial” lens on the eye, and others from a computer program that analyzes the topographical map taken of the front of the eye and creates a customized mold. One method may be most appropriate for one patient, and a different one for another. There are many recipes to make a good and tasty chocolate chip cookie!