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What Are Ortho-K Lenses?

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Bird's-eye view of a person's right hand with a contact lens on their index finger above a table with a contact lens case, contact solution, and eye drops on it

Ortho-k lenses are a type of contact lens that has become increasingly popular in recent years for correcting vision problems without needing surgery. Also known as orthokeratology, ortho-k lenses are worn overnight and can temporarily reshape the cornea to improve vision throughout the day.

These lenses can be an attractive option for people who aren’t keen on laser eye surgery, but they really shine as part of a myopia control plan. If your kid lives with myopia, let’s consider how ortho-k lenses could help.

How Do Ortho-K Lenses Work?

Let’s break down how ortho-k works by first understanding how your eyes function. Think of your eye like a camera. When light enters it, it goes through 2 main parts: the clear front part called the cornea and the lens inside.

The cornea is like the protective glass at the front of your eye, and as light passes through it, it gets bent or refracted. Then, the lens inside your eye focuses these light rays onto a special layer at the back of your eye known as the retina. This whole process is what allows you to see the world clearly.

However, there’s a catch—if your cornea isn’t shaped correctly, the light won’t focus properly on the retina. Instead, it might focus either in front of or behind it, causing blurriness at various distances. This situation is what we call a refractive error.

Correcting Refractive Errors with Ortho-K

Here’s where ortho-k lenses come into play. These special lenses are designed to gently reshape your cornea while you wear them overnight. For instance, if you have myopia (nearsightedness), your eye has grown too long, or your cornea is curved too steeply. This curve causes light to focus in front of your retina, making distant objects appear blurry.

Ortho-k lenses temporarily flatten your cornea while you sleep. This can correct your vision, allowing you to see clearly without needing glasses or contact lenses during the day. However, it’s important to note that this correction is not permanent. Over time, your eye will gradually return to its natural shape.

The fact that this change is reversible can actually be quite beneficial. If you decide to stop using ortho-k lenses, your eye should return to its original shape. This flexibility makes ortho-k a great option to try life without lenses before considering more permanent solutions like laser eye surgery.

A young girl putting in ortho-k contact lenses to control myopia progression.

Ortho-K for Myopia

Ortho-k isn’t just for adults—it can be a game-changer for kids dealing with myopia, especially when it comes to myopia control.

So, let’s talk about myopia for a moment. It’s a vision issue becoming more common, and experts predict that by 2050, about half of the world’s population will have it. Myopia usually shows up in childhood when your eyes are still growing. As time passes, your child’s eyes can grow even longer, making myopia worse.

Myopia can potentially lead to serious eye problems, like:

  • Retinal detachment
  • Glaucoma
  • Cataracts
  • Myopic maculopathy

Usually, myopia levels off by the time you hit your twenties, but before that, it can keep getting worse. The good news is that eye experts have come up with some cool methods to slow down this myopia ride. One of these methods involves using ortho-k lenses, which could reduce myopia progression in kids by about 50%.

Is Ortho-K Right for Your Family?

Whether it’s for you or your child, the ortho-k process starts with a comprehensive eye exam. During this exam, your optometrist can measure the surface of your cornea, creating a 3D map of its unique contours and ridges. With this map in hand, they can provide you with contact lenses tailored for your eyes.

The amount of reshaping each person needs depends on their prescription. You may have to try a few different lenses before finding the right one. Don’t be surprised if it takes a little time—it could be a matter of days or weeks before you start seeing noticeable improvements. Patience and sticking to the routine are essential.

But there are some considerations. For example, using ortho-k lenses calls for a good dose of commitment. You or your child needs to wear them every night to keep reshaping your cornea, otherwise, it’ll return to its original shape, and you’ll lose your corrected vision.

Learn More About Ortho-K

Ortho-k lenses can be a fantastic option for parents looking to control their children’s myopia. The lenses can provide temporary clear vision without wearing eyeglasses and contact lenses during the day.

Our team at Toronto Centre Eye Care can help you feel confident about your eye care decisions. Ortho-k lenses are only one part of our myopia control offerings. If you want to know how ortho-k could help your child see clearly into adulthood, contact us today.

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Written by Toronto Centre Eye Care

For over a decade, the name Toronto Centre Eye Care has been synonymous with professional service and personal care. We pride ourselves on the level of care we offer our patients—going above and beyond the call of duty to identify a problem and recommend an effective solution.

We look forward to getting to know you.

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