Orthokeratology or Ortho-k is the science of temporarily changing the curvature or shape of the cornea. This changes how light is focused on the retina at the back of the eye. It works each night while you sleep by using specially designed retainer contact lenses put in prior to bed and removed upon awakening. The result is clear vision throughout the day without glasses or contact lenses on. Ortho-k creates an optimal corneal shape to reduce peripheral light rays from promoting eye growth as described above, thus allowing for clear crisp vision during waking hours.

Until recently, Ortho-K has most often been used as a method for Myopia Control in children exclusively. The kids have their vision fully corrected during the day without the need of glasses or contacts by using these speciality contacts at night. The primary goal with children, though, is the long-term reduction of the vision health risks associated with progressive myopia like glaucoma, macular degeneration, and retinal detachments.

With changes in visual demand, more and more adults are now taking advantage of ortho-k as a form of vision correction. Many adults enjoy not needing to wear any glasses and contacts during the day while avoiding the risks and complications associated with surgery such as LASIK. Whether for near or distance vision, Ortho-k is an excellent viable alternative.

Ortho-K is especially helpful for people whose professions make contact lens wearing difficult or uncomfortable, such as dusty or dirty work environments. Athletes and sports enthusiasts such as skiers, tennis players, or any impact sport tend to find ortho-k to be an attractive solution.

Which is Better: Ortho-K or LASIK?
As with any type of surgery, there are risks with LASIK. These commonly include:

  • Severe, possibly permanent dry eyes syndrome
  • Serious vision problems such as halos, glare, or diplopia (double-vision)
  • untreatable vision loss
  • Poor nighttime or low-contrast vision
  • imperfect vision correction

Furthermore, LASIK is rarely 100% effective, particularly when the patient is already a high myope (very nearsighted), has a lot of astigmatism, and is presbyopic. There is a strong likelihood that the patient will still require some form of vision corrective lenses such as glasses or contacts.

On the contrary, Ortho-k is considered to be only marginally risky. Incidences of complications are extremely low. These complications, if they do occur, are usually mild soreness and irritation, which can be addressed by your optometrist. Unlike LASIK, Ortho-k has almost no side effects and has been helping people see safely and comfortably since 1994. Ortho-k is a simpler, more user-friendly and safer method of correcting vision than laser surgery.

The fees for adult ortho-k treatments start at $1800, and require more frequent office visits and more sophisticated testing than simple annual examinations. While insurance coverage for the “routine” components of an annual exam are allowable, follow-up visits and the materials involved will be out-of-pocket expenses.