Myopia, or nearsightedness, is a common refractive condition that affects millions of people worldwide – 1 out of 3 people in the U.S. alone. People with myopia have a difficult time seeing objects at a distance clearly because the distance from the cornea at the front of the eye to the retina at the back of the eye is too long, causing images to be focused in front of the retina rather than on it directly. Though traditional glasses and contact lenses have been the standard for successfully correcting myopia in adults and children, more recent developments have proven especially effective at managing childhood nearsightedness. Orthokeratology can actually help slow the progression of myopia in children and help lower the risk for more serious eye complications in the future.
How does orthokeratology work?
Orthokeratology (ortho-k) involves the use of custom designed contact lenses to temporarily reshape the cornea and improve vision. Most ortho-k lenses are worn overnight to gently reshape the cornea while you sleep. This often results in clearer vision throughout the day and possibly eliminates the need for daytime glasses or contact lenses for distance vision. Ortho-k lenses need to be worn every night for optimal vision throughout the day. When used in childhood, ortho-k can slow the progression of myopia and ultimately lead to a lesser degree of it later in life.
How does ortho-k slow the progression of myopia in children?
The custom designed contact lenses temporarily reshape the cornea and provides the eye with a strong “stop” signal for eye growth in children. That signal essentially slows the progression of myopia and can help prevent myopia-related conditions later down the road. If it’s determined appropriate by your doctor, children can continue their myopia management treatment throughout their childhood and teenage years or until myopic progression has effectively slowed or stopped. At that time, they can continue ortho-k if desired, or be fitted for single vision glasses, contact lenses, or possibly elect for LASIK® vision correction after the age of 18.
Why is myopia management so important for children?
The younger a child becomes myopic usually leads to them having a higher degree of myopia in adulthood. The higher the degree of myopia, the more increased risk there is for developing potentially serious complications later on, such as retinal holes, retinal detachments, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and earlier onset cataracts, among other conditions. That’s because the increased length of the eye stretches the ocular tissues in the back, such as the retina. Therefore, myopia is best managed with early intervention, which can often lead to a lower degree of myopia in adulthood and a decreased risk of sight-threatening complications.
Yes, ortho-k can also be effective at treating nearsightedness in adults. Many adults elect this treatment over traditional correction as it allows them to be free of glasses throughout the day. Ortho-k is particularly beneficial for active adults, especially those who participate in water sports regularly. It’s important to note, however, that ortho-k for adults only offers the vision correction component, not management of myopia. That’s because the eyes of an adult have already reached their full growth. Whether used in children or adults, there is no reversal of myopia with ortho-k.
What are the benefits of myopia management through ortho-k?
In addition to the improved vision and a lower risk of developing complications later on, ortho-k can also provide the following crowd-pleasing benefits:
- Less worry of glasses or contacts being damaged or lost
- More freedom for active adults and children
- Less allergy discomfort and irritation
- Easy daily maintenance
How quickly will my vision improve with ortho-k?
The majority of ortho-k patients achieve improved vision in only a few days. Some people with lower levels of myopia have reported their vision corrected 100% after the first night. That may take longer depending on your individual prescription, however. In general, your vision should begin improving after each night as the cornea is gently molded by the lenses. After the first 7 to 10 days, most people notice their vision staying clearer for longer periods of time each day.
What’s my next step to myopia management through ortho-k?
Appointments specifically for ortho-k will be made in one of our two Sevierville EyeCare Optical offices (Dolly Parton Parkway or Highway 66) with Dr. Alyssa Invergo. We invite you to schedule your appointment today at EyeCare Optical, a division of Drs. Campbell, Cunningham, Taylor and Haun, by calling (865) 584-0905.