By Steve Roberts
Ortho-k lenses which are only worn at night while sleeping may be the best solution for combating short-sightedness, both providing immediate full correction and preventing the short-sightedness from worsening in future. Otherwise known as myopia, short-sightedness is when distant objects appear blurred to an uncorrected eye and is due to the eyeball elongating over time which results in light entering the eye at the wrong angle and focusing in front of the retina rather than directly on it. Traditionally, glasses and conventional daytime contact lenses are prescribed to correct myopia by ensuring light enters the eye at the correct angle. However, for children and many adults this correction does not prevent their myopia from worsening over time leading to higher eyesight prescriptions and hence stronger lenses to achieve the necessary level of correction.
This is where ortho-k lenses come in. These custom-designed contact lenses are only worn overnight and work by gently flattening the surface of the eye during sleep using the mild pressure provided by closed eyelids to ensure that light enters the eye at the correct angle. Since the eye is effectively a muscle, this flattening is retained as a form of muscle memory and lasts for over 24 hours so that after the lenses are removed each morning, the wearer enjoys perfect natural vision all day long until the lenses are reinserted at night. Ortho-k is an abbreviation for orthokeratology and this revolutionary new treatment has been available since 2004 in the UK but remains relatively little known.
With various research studies like SMART confirming not only that ortho-k lenses correct myopia but also that they prevent it from worsening, the question being asked increasingly is why few opticians offer the treatment to their patients. The answer is largely down to the simple issue of financial return since as a commercial proposition, ortho-k is not an immediate source of profit for the optician when compared with selling a new pair of glasses which offer a margin on both lenses and the frames. Hence it is not a coincidence that ortho-k opticians are not found working for the high street chains. They are typically independent practitioners with strong contact lens fitting experience who have the necessary diagnostic knowledge and treatment management expertise required for orthokeratology.
Check if you or your children are suitable for overnight ortho-k corrective contact lenses .