Orthokeratology, more commonly known as Ortho-K, is the practice of using gas permeable contact lenses which can reshape the cornea of the human eye temporarily. This is a corrective method for certain eye conditions that demand the use of eyeglasses, contact lenses throughout the day or any form of refractive surgery. This method is also known as Overnight Vision Correction or Corneal Refractive Therapy (CRT). Undergoing orthokeratology ensures adaptation of the cornea to a significant extent within hours or days. However, complete adaptation often requires a span of 2-3 weeks. This corrective method is extremely effective and stable, but not permanent in contrast to refractive surgeries. Any discontinuity of use of the lenses may lead to the return of the eye to its former vision. It is, thus, very important to regularly wear these lenses so that the correct vision is always maintained.
Orthokeratology does not need the patient to wear the lenses throughout the day. The patient may just wear it for a few hours (preferably during the hours of sleep) and repeat this practice after every two or three days. In Australia, GOV orthokeratology is often used by practitioners and it shows a high rate of success. However, there are very adverse effects associated with the use of such a corrective method, such as ghosting, contrast problems, double vision or starbursting. Complications may also arise due to practicing of inappropriate hygiene recommendations by the patient while handling or cleaning of the lenses or due to relative corneal hypoxia (oxygen deficit) in cases where poor quality lenses are used.
The 5 Common Eye Conditions That Are Ideal For Orthokeratology:
1) Myopia: Orthokeratology is most used in the correction of myopia (nearsightedness) temporarily. Often children and young adults having myopia who opt to go glasses-free and are not yet old enough for LASIK are corrected using this method. It can often be used for patients with up to -6.00 diopters of myopia. Progression of childhood myopia can also be controlled using orthokeratology.
2) Hyperopia: Hyperopia (farsightedness) is a very common condition in adults where they find difficulty in seeing nearby objects and they often appear quite blurry. Reading, writing, drawing or any kind of computer work becomes very difficult for the patient. Orthokeratology can correct this condition to a great extent.
3) Presbyopia: This condition arises as a result of the aging process when the lens of the eye gets hardened gradually. This is another form of farsightedness and the use of the lenses by orthokeratology is often very helpful.
4) Astigmatism: It is an eye condition in which the patient gets blurred vision at any distance leading to extreme discomforts and headaches frequently. Treating astigmatism using a corneal procedure like ortho-k is a very common practice. This condition is mostly inherited and occurs due to imperfection in the curvature of the patient’s eye i.e., the front surface of the eye or sometimes the lens is not curved in the same manner in both the directions.
5) Both myopia and presbyopia: People with such combined conditions often need bifocal lenses or monovision treatment. Orthokeratology, in contrast, is a far more effective practice.
Orthokeratology, although, not quite widely is an age-old procedure. It is a major solution for people with different types of eye conditions and provides for a non-surgical and reversible form of correction. Depending on the type of lens material used and its oxygen permeability, which is measured in Dk, it can be understood how effective it will be in correcting an eye condition. Accordingly, the costs also vary. Orthokeratology is a little expensive and time consuming because it needs several visits to the ophthalmologist for the best possible outcomes. However, it is extremely effective and is always a preferred choice.