What Is Ortho-k (Orthokeratology)?

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What Is Ortho-k (Orthokeratology)?

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What Is Ortho-k (Orthokeratology)?

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What Is Ortho-k (Orthokeratology)?

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What Is Ortho-k (Orthokeratology)?

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What if there was a way to correct your vision and reduce your dependence on corrective eyewear without surgery? That might sound somewhat unrealistic, but it is indeed a reality for many people. Eye care professionals call it orthokeratology, or ortho-k for short.


What Is Orthokeratology?

Ortho-k is a nonsurgical and noninvasive treatment involving wearing specially designed contact lenses overnight. The lenses temporarily reshape your corneas while you sleep to improve vision. When you take them out in the morning, your eyesight will be clear. Thus, daytime glasses or contact lenses will be unnecessary. It is similar to how retainers or braces work for teeth. 


What Does Ortho-k Correct?


Orthokeratology mainly helps with myopia. Instead of using eyeglasses, regular contacts, PRK, or LASIK to correct your nearsightedness, ortho-k is a noninvasive way to leave your corrective eyewear behind and not depend on it all the time. 


Since ortho-k has no age minimum, eye doctors sometimes recommend it to improve children’s vision. Vision continues to change into adulthood for some kids. So, eye doctors do not recommend procedures like PRK and LASIK for kids. That is where orthokeratology lenses can come in handy.


How Does Ortho-k Work?


The cornea is a clear, flexible, dome-shaped tissue in the front of the eye. Its role is to focus light onto the retina. It is responsible for most of your eye’s ability to focus. Your eye doctor will measure and map the corneal surface using a corneal topographer and then design an ortho-k lens for your eye. 


The corneal topographer reflects light off the eye’s surface to create the corneal map. It does not touch the eye, and the process is painless. The map will show your eye doctor the curves and shape of your cornea. 


Orthokeratology lenses flatten the cornea’s center to change how light bends as it enters the eye. You wear the lenses overnight to flatten your corneas and remove them upon waking. These gas-permeable lenses are rigid enough to reshape your cornea while allowing the passage of oxygen to keep your eyes healthy. 


When you remove your lenses, your corneas stay flattened for a period of time, giving you clear vision without the need for glasses. If you stop wearing these lenses at night, the refractive error will return as your eyes revert to their original shape. Thus, it is best to wear them regularly to maintain vision correction.


Is Ortho-k Safe?


Complications from orthokeratology are rare. The key to minimizing risk is to follow the appropriate hygiene, handling, and disinfection procedures recommended by your eye doctor. Furthermore, orthokeratology is a fully reversible therapy. Your corneas will return to their natural or original shape if you stop wearing the mold. 


Do You Have to Wear the Lenses Every Night?


It is best to wear the molds every night to maintain clear vision. Failing to wear them for a day or more will likely lead to a temporary reduction in clarity. That is especially so if you do so early on in your therapy.




There is no limit to how long you can use this therapy. However, eye doctors recommend regular comprehensive eye exams. Many patients see improvements after the first night of wear. However, it could take up to two weeks to see the full effects, depending on your initial prescription.

For more about orthokeratology, contact Coastal Family Eyecare at our Orange Beach, Alabama office. Call (251) 974-1233 to schedule an appointment today.

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