Orthokeratology or ortho-K is a fascinating procedure that we have been using here at Arbuthnots since the mid 1990s. In essence, it is a procedure whereby a specially designed hard (RGP) contact lens is worn comfortably overnight leaving you contact lens or glasses free during the day. This contact lens then gently reshapes the cornea. The cornea is the almost invisible window at the front of our eye. Its curvature determines our prescription therefore changing its curvature can leave us glasses free. This procedure is most suitable for moderately short-sighted people with low levels of astigmatism.
People who may benefit from orthokeratology are:
- Those considering laser surgery but would prefer a reversible alternative
- Those who play contact sports or water sports and find they lose lenses
- Those who work in dusty or dry environments and find contact lenses uncomfortable
There is also now evidence to suggest that the process of orthokeratology slows the normal natural increase that happens to most short sighted people particularly through their teenage years. It is definitely something to be seriously considered for short-sighted children with short-sighted parents.
The process of orthokeratology is outside the standard eye examination and requires special computerised maps of your cornea to be taken to monitor changes brought on by the wear of lenses.
Orthokeratology is a painless procedure and starts at £35.00 per month to include all consultations, contact lenses and cleaning solutions.
There is no doubt the prevalence of myopia (short-sightedness) is increasing. About 30-40% for European adults and up to 80% or higher in the Asian population are now myopic and it has been described as an epidemic. A 2012 study of male armed forces entrants in South Korea found a staggering 96.5% to be myopic. As well as the inconvenience of poor uncorrected vision experienced by myopic patients there is clear evidence that each time we become more myopic our risk of developing sight-threatening conditions in later life such as glaucoma, retinal detachment and macular degeneration increases significantly. Any opportunity to intervene and lessen the risk of these life changing conditions should be grasped.
There are both genetic and environmental influences to myopia development. Whilst we can’t change our genes, studies suggest that excessive near vision demands such as reading, computers, phones as well as lack of time outside significantly increase development. A recent study showed the risk of becoming myopic was reduced by about one-third when the time spent outdoors is increased to more than 14 hours per week compared to less than 5 hours.
Whilst fitting ortho-K lenses it has long been noticed that the normal increase in myopia that occurs with most myopic children is either halted or slowed dramatically. This has created a whole new field of optometry known as myopia control. With myopia control, as well as giving you excellent vision, we are aiming to give you good, stable vision for the rest of your life and reduce your risk of serious eye disease. Arbuthnot’s is one of the few practices in the local area with an interest in this field.
Find out more about the increasing prevalence of myopia in the UK from The College of Optometrists.