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What Are Ortho-K Lenses & How Do They Work?

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A woman using her left index finger to pull her eyelid down while she puts a contact lens on her right eye with her right hand.

Orthokeratology, also known as ortho-k, is becoming more and more popular as an approach to treating myopia. It’s a nonsurgical option for providing you or your child with clear vision—all through the use of specialty contact lenses. But how exactly does it work?

Orthokeratology utilizes specialty contact lenses worn overnight to temporarily reshape the cornea. In the morning, once the lenses are removed, you can see clearly without relying on glasses or other contact lenses. Ortho-k lenses can also help slow and prevent myopia progression for children. 

There are several options available for controlling myopia. During your next eye exam, we can answer your questions about ortho-k and help you decide if it’s the right option for you or your child.

What Is Orthokeratology?

Orthokeratology, or ortho-k, is a nonsurgical approach to correcting myopia—a common refractive error caused by a misshapen eye or cornea. Myopia, also known as nearsightedness, is a progressive condition that can make your distance vision blurry.

Typically, myopia treatment involves the use of contact lenses or eyeglasses. These corrective lenses can change how light enters your eye to help you see clearly. But with technology becoming more and more advanced, there’s an excellent alternative to traditional myopia control: orthokeratology.

This form of treatment is a little different than people may be used to. Ortho-k lenses are worn at night instead of during the day. They can temporarily change the shape of your eye to give you clear vision after you take them out without relying on any other visual aids.

For children, the effects of ortho-k lenses can also slow myopia progression, helping preserve their sight and reduce their risk of high myopia. Every kid is different, and we can help you determine if ortho-k might be right for your child during a children’s eye exam.

How Does Ortho-K Work?

The magic of ortho-k lies in its unique lenses. These specialized lenses apply gentle amounts of pressure to the eye to flatten and mold the cornea, which helps correct any abnormalities in its shape. When you wake up and remove your lenses, the new shape of your eye helps give you clear vision throughout the day.

The effects typically last between 1–2 days, with no permanent changes made to the cornea. As time goes by without the lenses, your eye will naturally begin to revert to its original shape. Orthokeratology is noninvasive and designed to be pain-free. For some kids and adults, it can be extremely effective for removing the need to wear daily contacts or eyeglasses.

How Is Ortho-K Different from Regular Contacts?

Normally, contact lenses are worn during the day and correct your refractive error for as long as you wear them. By changing how light enters your eye, they can help give you clear vision.

Ortho-k addresses your vision problems overnight, rather than during the day. And instead of correcting your vision while you wear the lenses, they prepare you for the next day and reshape your eye so you can see without any other form of vision correction.

Additionally, unlike standard contact lenses, ortho-k can help kids reduce the progression of myopia by up to 56%. So it isn’t just a great way to achieve clear vision—it can actually significantly benefit a child’s future as well.

What to Expect from Ortho-K

If you’re using ortho-k for the first time, it may feel unusual as you experience pressure on your eyes when trying to sleep. But most people report that this discomfort goes away within a few days as their eyes adjust to the sensations.

Remember: these lenses were designed to be worn without causing sleep issues through a design that helps make them minimally noticeable. And, once you wake up and remove the lenses, there shouldn’t be any residual sensations.

Instead, you should notice that during the day, your vision is more clear. In many cases, you can go about your life as usual without worrying about your glasses or contacts at all.

A male optometrist using a medical device to examine the eyes of a female patient and look for potential eye problems.

Where to Get Ortho-K Lenses

If you or your child are dealing with myopia, come talk to us at Ladera Ranch Optometry. We can perform a comprehensive eye exam and discuss whether or not orthokeratology is the right approach for you. 

Book an appointment with us today, and take the first step towards clear vision!

Written by Total Vision

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