What is Ortho-K?
Orthokeratology (Ortho-K) is a gas permeable lens that you wear while you sleep. Overnight, your eye is temporarily reshaped so that in the morning, you don't need to wear contact lenses or glasses. Ortho-K, also known as corneal reshaping contact lenses, are primarily used to correct those suffering from nearsightedness, astigmatism, and hyperopia. Though they are used for people of all ages, they have become popular with children as they slow down the progression of myopia. Imagine your child being able to go to school or play sports without having to worry about their glasses or contacts?
This can be accomplished with Ortho-K and without the need for surgery. Many patients, young and older, have benefitted from the advantages of sharp vision after being fitted with orthokeratology in our office. Our Fox Chase eye doctor, Dr. Schechter, is experienced and skilled in fitting adults and children with ortho-k lenses.
Benefits of Ortho-k for Kids
Myopia, always common in children, is an increasing problem. The number of kids who are nearsighted has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years. The reason for this remains blurry, yet one possible culprit is the increased amount of time kids spend indoors gazing at digital screens, with limited exposure to natural light. Many parents are alarmed by their child’s need for a new vision prescription yearly, and parents and kids are disturbed by the increasing thickness of their eyeglass lenses.
Ortho-k offers an efficient way to slow, or possibly stop, the continued progression of nearsightedness in kids. In case you’re wondering why surgery isn’t a better option, keep in mind that laser procedures, such as LASIK, are not suitable for young children. As studies have demonstrated that orthokeratology is safe for all ages, it is currently regarded as the ideal option for myopia control in kids.
Additionally, ortho-k for kids also grants freedom to children who don’t want to be bothered by inconvenient eyewear. Frames are always falling off or being left behind, and replacement eyeglasses or repairs can run very high fees for parents. Ortho-k lenses are only worn in bed, so there’s virtually no risk of kids losing or damaging them. Regular contact lenses are often a poor choice for kids who spend a lot of their days in dusty, dirty playfields, and/or who are not able to commit to sterilizing contacts regularly.
Which kids are good candidates for ortho-k?
Any nearsighted child with healthy eyes is a possible candidate for orthokeratology. Regular eye exams with visual acuity testing are a necessary part of proper kids’ eye care. If your child has myopia and their vision prescription continually increases at each eye exam, ortho-k may be a good option. Our will evaluate your child’s vision and ocular condition to determine candidacy. Please contact us to schedule an appointment to discuss orthokeratology.
Ortho-K as a form of myopia control
One of the major benefits of Ortho-K is the ability it has in helping myopia control. Children with myopia or glasses tend to see their prescription rise every year which also means a new pair of lenses every year. This is not healthy for the eyesight of children as studies have shown that the higher the prescription, the greater the risk of developing eye disease later in life.
By wearing the Ortho-K lenses overnight, the process of the cornea being misshaped and leading to decreased vision slows down. We are educating our Fox Chase parents who are learning about their child needing glasses that Ortho-K should be viewed as one does with braces - a necessary investment for the future health of your child.
The additional benefits of Ortho-K include not having to worry about your child breaking or losing their glasses. They can play sports without worry. In general, there is an initial cost to getting your child Ortho-K with a small yearly cost of maintenance. We highly encourage all parents of children with myopia to strongly consider this option.
Ortho-K as an alternative to Lasik
Both Ortho-K and Lasik are solutions to not having to wear contact lenses or glasses anymore. While Lasik can be a "quick fix" solution, many are looking to avoid it. That is because Lasik is a surgery and people are often scared to go under the knife. In addition, Lasik can be very cost prohibitive, often not covered by insurance. We have heard a lot of these issues when speaking to patients across Northeast Philadelphia who are looking to avoid wearing glasses or contacts. Contacts can become a pain to put in every day and often leave the patient with dryness or irritation as the day goes on.
Ortho-K is often half the cost of Lasik. Many times, patients who have had Lasik complain of blurry vision, dry eyes, and will even need to wear bifocals later in life. This is why we consider Ortho-K a great alternative to Lasik.