Myopia is one of the most common refractive eye conditions in the world and is estimated to affect up to 40% of adults in the United States, as well as a growing number of children. Patients with myopia can see objects nearby clearly, but those that appear further away are blurred or distorted. This occurs due to a problem with the way that light passes through the eye and is refracted by the cornea, which is the curved, transparent lens on the front part of the eye. Although myopia isn’t normally serious, it is a progressive problem and without treatment, your vision is likely to get significantly worse. Research has also found that patients with moderate to severe myopia are more likely to suffer from other vision problems in the future. This includes conditions like glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration.
Fortunately, there are things that can be done to slow down the progression of myopia to make your condition manageable and reduce the risks it poses to your future eye health and vision. One of these solutions is called orthokeratology.
Orthokeratology, or ortho-k as it is often referred to, is one of the newest and most innovative treatments for the management of myopia. The treatment is based around the use of contact lenses and is particularly common in children who are usually ideal candidates for the treatment. However, rather than being worn during the day, these contacts are worn overnight while the patient sleeps. Ordinarily, wearing contacts when you sleep isn’t recommended. However, ortho-k lenses are special in that they are made from gas-permeable material that makes them both safe and comfortable to be worn overnight. This is because the material allows oxygen to pass through the lenses and reach the eyes.
Ortho-k lenses are not generic, each set is custom-designed specifically for your eyes and works by applying very gentle and consistent force to the cornea so that they are reshaped in such a way that, if you're awake, you could see clearly. The next morning, you remove your ortho-k lenses and go about your day as usual with one distinct difference – you won’t need to wear glasses or contact lenses to see clearly. This is because your eye can retain its new shape for a number of hours – up to 24 in fact. The more regularly you wear ortho-k lenses at night, the longer you will be able to manage in the day without glasses or contact lenses. This is in addition to slowing and even halting the progression of your myopia.
Although orthokeratology gives patients who would usually wear glasses or contact lenses another option to see clearly each day, it is just as effective as a form of slowing myopia progression, particularly in children.
When used for partial or full correction of myopia, orthokeratology has been proven to slow the progression of myopia in children by as much as 36-56% compared to those who wear glasses or contact lenses. This makes ortho-k a popular choice among parents who are concerned that their child’s myopia may become significantly worse as they get older. This could also prevent them from experiencing complications as a result of their myopia.
Soft lenses are an alternative to orthokeratology contact lenses. Rather than the same lenses being worn every night, patients are given soft, daily disposable lenses. As their name suggests, they are worn once and then thrown away at the end of the day, and the patient goes to bed with no contact lenses in whatsoever. Studies have found that soft lens myopia management is also effective at slowing the progression of myopia, and like ortho-k lenses, they can be used by virtually all patients, including children.
If you would like to know more about options for myopia management, please get in touch with our expert eye care team in Sugar Land, TX by calling us today.