Orthokeratology, Myopia and the Case of Overnight Vision Correction

Let’s begin with “myopia.” Exactly what is it? Myopia is the medical term for nearsightedness, a condition affecting over 40% of Americans aged 12-54, where a refraction error of the cornea hinders light to bend properly, making objects far away appear blurry. While this condition is technically chronic, recent advancements in the eye industry have made it possible for people with low to moderate myopia to correct their vision through a process called Orthokeratology, or “Ortho-K.” Ortho-K has also been shown to slow or halt the progression of myopia wherein patients experience worsening vision and increasing dependence on visual correction over time.

Orthokeratology—What is It?

Orthokeratology is a form of reversible, refractive correction involving the overnight use of gas-permeable contact lenses to reshape the contour of the cornea while you sleep. These oxygen-intense, “breathable” lenses work to reverse the effects of Myopia during the night so the wearer can experience clear vision the following day—without relying on glasses or contacts. Ortho-K is used primarily to treat myopia and its progression, although it can aid in the correction of low-degree astigmatism, hyperopia, and presbyopia as well.

The Orthokeratology Process

Orthokeratology involves a three-step process:

  1. the initial examination, where Dr. Bainbridge will use a corneal topographer to precisely map the curvature and refraction error of the cornea, and ensure the overall health and suitability of the eye,
  2. the fitting, which may happen on the same day, where Dr. Bainbridge place a series of Ortho-K lenses on the eyes to achieve an ideal fit, and
  3. the one-to-two-week treatment phase where candidates use their Ortho-K lenses while sleeping for at least six to eight consecutive hours each night.
    1. Patients may wear disposable soft lenses or glasses during the day during the initial phase as correction is achieved. When full treatment is achieved, only the prescribed overnight contacts need to be worn – no lenses are needed during waking hours. Occasionally, candidates experience mild glare or haloes around bright lights. Remember, there is always the risk of infection without proper eye and lens care, so practice good hygiene and keep your scheduled routine follow-up eye appointments!

      Why Choose Orthokeratology?

      For those with mild to moderate myopia, Ortho-K is a great option, especially for patients engaged in sports-related activities or when working in environments containing debris or dust. Ortho-K can also be an effective pre-LASIK treatment that can temporarily stall the need for corrective eye surgery. In addition, the fast, painless and safe process makes Ortho-K a practical solution for children who have myopia.

      How Costly is Ortho-k?

      Since a fitting for Ortho-K lenses is more involved and time-consuming than traditional contact lenses, the cost associated with the former procedure is more expensive. However, the price is well worth it, considering the greater amount of freedom associated with Ortho-K. This process requires a number of visits to the eye care practitioner’s office, and possibly a series of lenses to complete the process.

      In general, the price for Ortho-K in the United States varies anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 for both eyes, which includes follow-up care with the doctor. This is less than half the cost of LASIK surgery.

      Dr. Bainbridge has specifically kept his fees for this treatment in the lower end of this range to keep it within the reach of as many patients as possible.

      Unfortunately, most insurances do not cover the total cost of Ortho-K.

      Am I a Candidate for Ortho-k?

      The best candidates for Orthokeratology are children ages 8 to 18 who have progressive myopia. If early stages of nearsightedness are caught soon enough, Ortho-K can sometimes help with restoring vision in children, because the custom lenses “mold” the eyes overnight. Ortho-K also works well with adolescents and young adults with mild to moderate myopia, or for adults under the age of 45 who aren’t interested in LASIK or other corrective eye surgery. If you suffer from certain eye diseases or have severe myopia, Ortho-K is not recommended.

      Ask Your Doctor

      If you have questions or concerns about Ortho-K, schedule an appointment with Dr. Bainbridge. He will be able to help you determine your candidacy, costs, risks and benefits of the treatment.