Orthokeratology/Ortho K Update

In 2003, we introduced to the Gold Coast, a unique form of contact lens wear that allows the wearer to sleep in the lens, remove it on waking and maintain good sight all day, usually without need for further correction.  Ortho-K, or Orthokeratology started out as an alternative to regular contact lens wear, glasses and laser surgery.  However, it is now recognised that Ortho K not only helps you see, it actually significantly slows prescription changes in children and teens.

By reducing myopia progression, the risk factors for serious eye conditions like glaucoma and retinal detachments are also reduced.  The results have been dramatic enough so that leading myopia experts are advocating Ortho-K as a primary treatment in the battle against myopia progression1.

More immediate benefits for the child are also achieved.  Quality of life improvements include:

  • freedom from spectacles for activities such as dancing, sport, athletics.
  • many young people feel more self-confident when moving away from spectacle wear.
  • avoidance of the annoyance and discomfort often associated with glasses.

Slowing Progression

Multiple studies including some conducted over a number of years, demonstrate an average of 50% reduction in eye elongation (undesirable growth in eye length) and myopia degree with Ortho K compared to spectacles or regular contact lens wear.   Evidence suggests that Ortho K is as effective as drug management (atropine) and has the additional benefit of no longer needing to wear spectacles2.

Prescription Range

Early OrthoK lenses were limited to low to moderate myopia with minimal astigmatism.  Recent advances means that the range of prescriptions that can be treated has increased to include higher degrees of myopia and astigmatism.  In those cases outside the range of OrthoK, spectacles can be used to “top up” the residual prescription, while the person still potentially benefits from reduced progression3.

Individually Prescribed

The needs of each person’s particular situation need to be assessed with regards to their suitability for Orthokeratology.  Your optometrist takes into account the person’s prescription, eye health, motivation, attitude to compliance and lifestyle. For more information contact us here.

The potential benefits of OrthoK has be balanced with the increased responsibility required by the child or teen and their parents to avoid complications.  Complications are rare with Orthokeratology but slightly higher than regular daytime contacts due to the fact the lenses are worn while sleeping.  Anecdotally, parents report preferring OrthoK to contact lenses because the child is handling their lenses whilst supervised by them, and they don’t have to worry what is happening while their child is not under their direct care.

1.    Sankaridurg PR, Holden BA. Practical applications to modify and control the development of ametropia. Eye (Lond). 2014 Feb;28(2):134-41. doi: 10.1038/eye.2013.255. Epub 2013 Dec 6.

2.    Lin HJ, Wan L, Tsai FJ, Tsai YY, Chen LA, Tsai AL, Huang YC.  Overnight orthokeratology is comparable with atropine in controlling myopia. BMC Ophthalmol. 2014 Mar 31;14:40. doi: 10.1186/1471-2415-14-40.

3.   Charm J, Cho P. High myopia-partial reduction ortho-k: a 2-year randomized study. Optom Vis Sci. 2013 Jun;90(6):530-9. doi: 10.1097/OPX.0b013e318293

Paul Graham

Paul believes that what he truly practices is “Optometry for the Individual”. Whether it be vision training, glasses, custom or disposable contact lenses, orthok or precision tinted lenses, Paul will consult with you, completely assess your vision and custom design a treatment approach that is right for you. If you want a fresh approach, then Paul is the Optometrist for you!