What Is Orthokeratology?

Orthokeratology is the full name of a treatment commonly known as Ortho-K. Ortho-K may also be known as night lenses, dream lenses or sleep lenses. You may have also heard of them by their brand names. Some brands include Corneal Refractive Therapy (CRT), Vision Shaping Treatment (VST) and Euclid Emerald.

Regardless of the name, Ortho-K is the use of contact lenses to reshape the eye while you sleep. The effect of this gentle moulding is better vision during the day without wearing glasses or contact lenses.


How Can Ortho-K Help Me?

The first question to consider is why use Ortho-K? Your optometrist will discuss your lifestyle needs to identify if Ortho-K might benefit you. We also need to consider factors that might mean it is not suitable.

Ortho-K gives you freedom from wearing glasses or contact lenses during the day. There may be many different reasons why someone cannot wear day time contact lenses. Most commonly, irritation from dry and itchy eyes, is the leading reason for unsuccessful day time lens wear. This is often worse with long hours of computer use or reading. Additionally, dryness from office air-conditioning is something many can relate to. Also, consider if you work in a dusty or smoky environment. Or even a work place with chemical fumes which might react with contact lenses. Orthokeratology is an alternative option for clear vision in these scenarios.

Ortho-K can also be a top choice for sport enthusiasts. You can enjoy swimming without worrying about losing glasses or contact lenses. Because honestly, no one wants to wear goggles at the beach or while surfing. Keen mountain or dirt bikers will also appreciate not having grit end up under their contacts. Overall, orthokeratology can give you the greatest freedom for various sports.

Finally, ortho-k has been shown to slow myopia progression. It is one of the leading options for myopia control – the stabilizing of short-sightedness. Fortunately, it is now the largest area of contact lens research, meaning we will continue to gain new information all the time. For now, we have a wealth of evidence supporting the effectiveness of orthokeratology.


Myopia Control

Myopia, also known as near or short-sightedness, is poor vision due to the eye being longer than normal. Because of the longer eye, distant objects focus ‘short’ on the retina (eye’s receptors) resulting in blurry vision. For more info on different eye types read our guide on eye power.

Normal Emmetropic Eye
Normal Eye with Normal Focus


Uncorrected Myopic Eye
Uncorrected Myopic Eye with Image Falling 'Short'

As myopia increases, this blurry vision becomes worse. More importantly, the eye becomes increasingly longer, stretching the retina. This elongation significantly increases the risks of retinal tears and detachments. There can also be damage to the macula and increased glaucoma risks. All of which can cause permanent vision loss or blindness.

Myopia control aims to reduce levels of short-sightedness. Ortho-K is one of the most effective forms of myopia control.


How Does Ortho-K Work?

Orthokeratology involves taking precise measurements of the eye shape. At InFocus Optical, we have the gold-standard corneal topographer to obtain this eye map. By combining vision and other eye shape findings, a fully customised lens is designed for each eye. When worn overnight, the lens will precisely guide the reshaping process. Ortho-K contact lenses gently flattens the first layer of the cornea.

How Orthokeratology (Ortho-K) Works
How Orthokeratology (Ortho-K) Works

The principle of flattening is similar to how laser vision correction works. However, instead of permanently changing the eye surface, ortho-k is reversible. This avoids some serious adverse effects associated with laser, such as permanent dry eyes, haloes and hazy vision. Ortho-K is a safe, non-permanent, non-surgical alternative to laser vision correction.


The Advancement of Ortho K

The birth of ortho-k dates back to 1962 when it was discovered that some contact lens wearers had improved vision after contact lens removal. Early efforts to try and precisely control this effect were limited. The contact lens specialists of the time did not fully understand how it worked and were held back by technology.

Today, we have in our hands the technology to carefully develop an ortho-k program. Our bio-microscopes help detect problems before, during and after lens wear. Mapping of the eye surface in 3D enables accurate contact lens design. Then computer-controlled lathes cut the lenses, precisely pre-programming the ortho-k effect into each lens. It is this precision in lens manufacturing that early contact lens specialists could not achieve. Ongoing research means the latest lens materials transmit high amounts of oxygen, making overnight lens wear safe.


Where Do We Begin?

If you are thinking about ortho-k then you have come to the right place. To begin with, book in for a bulk-billed eye test at InFocus Optical. At the first appointment we will perform a thorough eye exam. Together we will discuss your eye history, including any past changes we should be aware of. We then check the level of vision, power and function of the eye. Moreover, we need to rule out any eye health problems. Our optometrist will discuss the motivations for ortho-k and determine whether it will be suitable.

So, book in for a no obligation assessment for whether orthokeratology would be suitable for you or your child.

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