What is Ortho-K?
If you’ve worn contact lenses for quite a while, you’ll know the golden rule – take them out when you go to sleep!
But with Orthokeratology (or Ortho-K) that notion is turned on its head.
Ortho-K is the overnight wear of customised contact lenses that eliminate the need for glasses or contact lenses during the day. While you are sleeping, these lenses gently re-shape the cornea, giving you clear vision when you wake up.
It’s a gentle, non-invasive technique that helps those with myopia (short-sightedness), and it is appropriate for both adults and children.
But for those who’ve worn traditional contact lenses for a long time, the concept of wearing lenses to bed might seem a little counter-intuitive, so we thought we’d explain things in a little more detail.
What is happening to my eyes while I’m sleeping with Ortho-K lenses in?
The cornea acts like a window and is the entry point for light into the eye. When the cornea receives this light, it refracts it onto the lens of the eye, focusing the light in just the right spot for your retina. In turn your retina sends on that information to your brain, which interprets the image. Just like a camera, if the focus isn’t quite right, the image that is sent on is blurry.
By wearing Ortho-K lenses while you sleep, your corneas are being gently reshaped so that when you wake up they can receive the maximum amount of light and focus it in the right spot. In turn, your retina can then send through an image that is sharp and clear, rather than blurry or fuzzy. Just like with a camera, it is effectively “putting the lens into focus” so the pictures you take with your eyes are clear and crisp. In the same way that the cornea is gently corrected overnight, the reshaping slowly wears off during the day, requiring nightly use of the lenses to repeat the process.
I’ve left my regular contact lenses in overnight and felt like I had to peel them off my eyelids in the morning!
Regular contact lenses that you wear during the day are softer, therefore quite pliable when you blink, or rub your eye. In fact, the tears you produce while blinking all day long help to keep regular lenses hydrated, which is why it is best to wear them when you are awake.
Ortho-K lenses on the other hand are gas permeable which means they allow as much oxygen as possible to travel through to the cornea. This means that even though you are wearing them all night and not blinking all the time, there is still plenty of oxygen getting into your eyes, eliminating the need to be awake! As a result, you will feel quite different waking up in your Ortho-K lenses compared to those times when you accidently went to sleep with your regular lenses in.
I’m not sure about this new technology…
Actually Ortho-K has been around since the 1940’s! It was then that optometrists started to realise that contact lenses could actually help to reshape the cornea. It took another 50 years or so before the process started to gain traction though, and now, with the amazing technology we have it is possible to actually map the eye before and after to see just how effective Ortho-K can be in reshaping the cornea. The lenses themselves are quite comfortable once fitted correctly, and as your optometrists, we’ll make sure you have the ones you need for ultimate comfort, and of course good results.
So no more glasses or contact lenses ever?
Not quite. Ortho-K is a reversible procedure which means you do need to stick to wearing then nightly in order to reap the benefits during the day. But, there are some studies that show that Ortho-K can slow down the progression of myopia. This can make it a great option for those who don’t want, or don’t qualify for alternatives such as laser eye surgery, and it also makes Ortho-K a good option for children too.
Why not just keep wearing normal contact lenses?
You can do that if you like, but Ortho-K is a great alternative to talk to your optometrist about if you:
- Struggle with, or don’t like wearing glasses,
- Play a lot of sport, or do activities such as swimming,
- Work in industries where there is a lot of dust or dirt that can get in your eyes,
- Find that your contact lenses make your eyes feel dry or tired,
- Have thought about laser eye surgery but want to try something non-invasive instead.
Is it as simple as just coming in and asking for Ortho-K lenses?
Not exactly, but it is quite a straightforward process nonetheless. We will need to see you for an appointment first to discuss your suitability for Ortho-K lenses. If you are deemed suitable, then we’ll work with you to make sure you are fitted with the perfect lens for you. There’s a bit of an adjustment process as you get used to wearing the lenses, and importantly, you’ll also need to know how to care for them and keep them clean.
Ortho-K services in Brisbane
If you live in Brisbane, and you’d like to talk about your options regarding orthokeratology, then we’d encourage you to make an appointment using the booking link below. Our optometrists can explain Ortho-K to you in more detail, and assess your suitability. If you choose to go ahead, we’ll be able to fit you with the perfect set of lenses to suit your needs, and manage your ongoing treatment.
Ready to book an appointment?
Online bookings available or call us on (07) 3463 0349.
All About Vision, Gas Permeable Contact Lenses (RGP or GP contacts), Accessed June 2021.
American Academy of Ophthalmology, What is Orthokeratology? Accessed June 2021.
European Council of Optometry and Optics, The Orthokeratology Procedure, Accessed June 2021.
Healio, 7 things you didn’t know about Ortho-K, Accessed June 2021.
Review of Myopia Management, Overnight Orthokeratology for Myopia: What does the Evidence Say? Accessed June 2021.
University of Kansas Medical Center, Structures and Function of the Cornea, Accessed June 2021.
This website does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately dial Triple 0 (000).