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What Are the Pros & Cons of Ortho-K Lenses?

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A close-up of a woman's hands as she handles an orthokeratology contact lens.

Orthokeratology, commonly known as ortho-k, is emerging as a pioneering approach in vision correction. 

These specially designed contact lenses are worn overnight to temporarily reshape the cornea. This reshaping allows for clear vision during the day without needing glasses or traditional contact lenses to see, but the lenses require diligent wear for consistent results. These are just a couple of the pros and cons of ortho-k lenses.

Ortho-k has also become a popular myopia control method. However, not everyone is a candidate for ortho-k for slowing myopia or vision correction. So, the first step is booking an eye exam with your eye doctor. They can determine your needs and what will be the most effective form of control or correction.

Understanding Ortho-K

Ortho-k lenses are rigid gas-permeable contact lenses tailored to each individual’s eyes. The individual wears the lenses while sleeping, and they gently reshape the cornea (the clear front surface of the eye) offering temporary correction of refractive errors such as myopia or hyperopia.

The moulding effect temporarily changes how light enters the eye, providing clear vision upon waking. Ortho-k lenses require nightly wear to maintain optimal vision because the effects are temporary.

Comparison with Other Vision Correction Methods

Ortho-K offers a unique balance of benefits and drawbacks compared to other vision correction methods like traditional contact lenses, glasses, and surgical options.

Glasses and contacts are less expensive and carry minimal risk, but they don’t offer the same freedom as ortho-k. On the other hand, surgical options like LASIK provide a more permanent solution but come with higher risks and costs.

Pros of Using Ortho-K Lenses

There are several significant benefits to wearing ortho-k lenses if you’re able.

Vision Correction Without Surgery

One of the most compelling advantages of ortho-k is its ability to correct vision without invasive surgery. Ortho-k offers a non-surgical alternative that delivers effective results for individuals who are skeptical about procedures like LASIK.

Daytime Freedom from Glasses or Contacts

Ortho-k lenses mean individuals with refractive errors can be free from daytime dependence on glasses or contact lenses. This can be particularly beneficial for athletes, those with active lifestyles, or individuals who find glasses and contacts cumbersome.

Potentially Slowing Down Myopia Progression in Children

Emerging research suggests that Ortho-K lenses may help slow myopia progression in children by up to 50%. This control effect is a significant advantage for parents concerned about their children’s worsening eyesight. It also helps counter the long-term implications of severe myopia, which include an increased risk of vision-threatening conditions like glaucoma, cataracts, retinal tears or detachments, and myopia macular degeneration.

Cons of Using Ortho-K Lenses

There are a couple of cons to consider with ortho-k. But your eye doctor is the best person to give you all the information pertinent to your unique situation. Always take the negative things you read on the internet with a grain of salt and consult with your healthcare professional.

High Initial Costs

The initial cost of ortho-k lenses can be high because it includes the lens cost, custom-fitting sessions, and follow-up appointments after treatment begins. Although some insurance plans may cover part of these costs, the upfront investment can be a barrier for many. Your eye doctor 

Not Suitable for Everyone

Ortho-k isn’t a suitable option for everyone. Individuals with certain eye conditions, irregular corneas, or high levels of myopia might not be ideal candidates. A thorough examination by an eye doctor is necessary to determine eligibility. Eye doctors receive extra training to be qualified to fit and prescribe ortho-k lenses because of their unique requirements.

Discuss Your Options with Your Eye Doctor

Ortho-K lenses offer a promising alternative for vision correction, providing benefits such as non-surgical treatment, daytime freedom from eyewear, and potential myopia control in children. Individuals looking for a non-invasive vision correction method and parents concerned about their children’s myopia progression may find these special lenses are worth considering.

But ortho-k lenses aren’t something you can simply order online. Your eye doctor will need to perform testing to ensure that your eye health and needs are suitable for ortho-k. 

Call our team at one of our locations at See & Be Seen Eyecare today to book an appointment. One of our experienced optometrists can examine your eyes and provide you with options for the clear vision you need and deserve.

Written by Dr. Ritesh Patel

Some people grow up wanting to be a famous athlete, an astronaut, or even the Prime Minister of Canada. Dr. Patel’s childhood ambition was to be an Optometrist. His dream leads him to live and practice all over the world, but his heart has always been in Toronto.

Dr. Patel was born in Toronto and grew up in the Markham area. After completing his Bachelor of Science in 2003 from the University of Waterloo, he went on to study at the prestigious New England College of Optometry in Boston, MA.

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