Orthokeratology for Myopia: Here’s What You Need to Know

Do you find that most articles on Orthokeratology for Myopia seem like they’re trying to sell you something instead of informing you? You start reading about how amazing this technology is, but then the article ends trying to convince you to go to some clinic or buy something. Then you’re left wondering, was the article written to inform me or to sell me something?

If this sounds familiar, look no further as I have nothing to sell you.

Myopia Daily is not a clinic, nor is associated with any clinic. We simply research a topic very much and then write articles simplifying the jargon in research papers so that anyone can understand them.

In this article, we’ll go over what is orthokeratology, orthokeratology for myopia specifically, and the pros and cons of this technology.

What is Orthokeratology (Ortho-K)?

To understand orthokeratology, it makes sense to understand the problem it is solving. It can be used to reduce myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism. In this article, we will focus only on myopia.

Understanding Myopia

In a nutshell, myopia (nearsightedness) is when light focuses in front of the retina, instead of on top of the retina. The retina is responsible for translating light into an image that the brain can read.

This happens because the myopic eye is longer than the normal eye.

axial elongation

The most common solution for this problem is the use of glasses or contact lenses with concave lenses. They will move the focal point further back onto the retina creating a clear image.

Another way to move the focal point further back onto the retina would be to flatten the cornea, which is the front part of the eye. This image illustrates this concept very well:

orthokeratology for myopia

This is exactly what orthokeratology contact lenses do.

Orthokeratology for Myopia

Orthokeratology is a non-surgical way to temporarily reshape the curvature of the eye to improve vision. This is achieved by wearing specially designed contact lenses while you sleep. You put the lenses in at bedtime, and when you awake, you will have clear vision for your waking hours without the need for glasses.

The cornea is extremely sensitive to very small changes. For example, flattening the cornea in an amount equivalent to around 5% of the thickness of a single human hair results in a full 1 diopter of change in vision. Therefore, these specially shaped lenses can be used to lightly press the cornea, causing it gradually to be reshaped in a way that creates perfect vision.

This is image is exaggerated but illustrates the process well:

orthokeratology for myopia

Pros of Ortho-K

  • There’s research indicating that Ortho-K may prevent myopia from getting worse.
  • Convenience: The mechanism of only needing to wear the lenses at night while sleeping is great for people who dislike wearing glasses or contact lenses during the day.
  • Reversable: If you stop wearing the lenses, things generally return to their original status within few weeks.
  • No surgery needed.
  • Generally considered safe for children.

Cons of Ortho-K

  • Requires to follow strict instructions given by your eye doctor. Not doing so could result in corneal infection and possible vision loss.
  • Orthokeratology can’t cure myopia. The myopia reduction effect will wear off after you stop using the lenses.
  • Initial Setup: Over a period of up to 6 months, a lot of visits to the eye doctor will be needed for the initial setup and fitting of the lenses. Even if everyhting goes well, regular follow-up visits (3 to 6 per month) are still essential to ensure the health of the eyes.
  • Expensive: Because Ortho-K requires specialized equipment, special fitting expertise, specially designed gas permeable lenses and a longer follow-up period, the price is higher than the price for glasses or conventional contact lenses.
  • In my opinion, it fails to address the underlying cause for myopia. I say this because I don’t believe the cornea has anything to do with the development of myopia. But there are conflicting theories on why myopia happens, this is just how I view it.

Conclusion

In this article we went over the how, the why, the pros, and the cons of orthokeratology for myopia.

Ortho-K is a very promising treatment for the world of eye care. Especially considering the potential it has shown in stopping the progression of myopia in children.

I hope this article helped you find the answers to any question you had on this topic. If it did not, please leave your questions in the comments below and I will get back to you as soon as possible!

Hugo Moreira

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I have extremely strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from the most respected sources, including recent scientific research, peer-reviewed medical journals, government agencies, scholarly articles, certified optometry websites, and up-to-date textbooks.

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My passion for promoting eye health in communities around the world fuels me to create content that is factually reviewed not only by the most up-to-date scientific research but also by everyday expertise from my personal experience with being nearsighted since I was a child.