How Does Orthokeratology Help Slow Myopia Progression
Myopia, also known as nearsightedness, is a common vision problem that causes objects at a distance to appear blurry. In addition to weakening vision, myopia can also cause physical changes to the structure of the eye. This condition can steepen the cornea, or the front surface of the eye, and/or cause and increase in eye length, where some of the tissues like the retina may stretch. Either of these issues can lead to an increased risk of eye disease in the future.
People with myopia have a few options for correcting their vision, such as eyeglasses and contact lenses. However, these treatments only correct the vision temporarily – while the glasses or lenses are being worn. In addition, none of these treatments can prevent myopia from progressing.
What is orthokeratology?
Orthokeratology is a unique myopia treatment that offers some key advantages. Also known as Ortho-K, this treatment involves the use of gas permeable contact lenses that reshape the cornea overnight while the person sleeps. Ortho-K lenses must be custom fitted to each eye. Your eye care provider will take measurements of the size and curvature of your cornea and then create a set of lenses custom-made to fit the unique shape of your eyes. These lenses fit over the cornea perfectly and allow air to pass through, which keeps them moist and comfortable as you wear them.
A person undergoing Ortho-K treatment will apply their specially made lenses at bedtime and wear them overnight. Throughout the night, these lenses gently reshape the cornea. In the morning, the person removes the lenses and then goes about their regular daily routine – no lenses or glasses needed. Since the Ortho-K lenses have reshaped their corneas the night before, most of these patients find that they can see clearly in the morning without eyeglasses or contact lenses. This clear vision usually lasts all day long.
Does orthokeratology help slow the progression of myopia?
It turns out that orthokeratology can do more than just temporarily correct the vision of a person with myopia – it also slows the progression of this condition in children. A growing body of research such as this study has revealed that orthokeratology may benefit children and adolescents by slowing down or halting the progression of nearsightedness, which typically worsens with age. The study also reveals that orthokeratology is most effective at slowing myopia progression in younger age groups and people with larger than average pupils. It appears that the greatest effect is realized when this treatment is started at an early age – around six to eight years.
Why is this important?
It’s important to treat myopia and try to slow its progression because, if left untreated, myopia can lead to more serious eye problems, such as cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, or retinal detachment. That’s why your child’s eye doctor will likely recommend beginning treatment as early as possible if your child shows signs of being nearsighted. Kids also need clear vision in academic settings for optimal learning.
Related post: Myopia in Kids: Treatment and Prevention
While the degree of myopia varies from person to person, the goal of treatment – particularly in children – is to prevent their myopia from progressing further and keep it within the mild range of possible. Orthokeratology can help achieve this goal by stopping the stimulus that causes the eye to grow.
Orthokeratology is also an excellent option for kids because it’s an efficient treatment. In other words, it can not only slow the progression of the child’s myopia, but it also provides them with an effective treatment right now that eliminates the need for other lenses and allows the child to see clearly throughout the day with no further corrective measures.
If your child shows signs of nearsightedness, such as squinting, headaches, or sitting too close to the TV, or if it has been more than a year since they have seen an eye doctor for an exam, contact us to learn more about our Myopia Management Clinic or schedule an appointment.