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What is orthoK?
Orthokeratology, commonly called orthoK, is a non-surgical procedure that eliminates the need for glasses or contact lenses during the day. With orthoK you wear specially designed lenses at night while sleeping. These lenses gently change the shape of your eye so that you can see clearly, with your natural vision, during the day.
This gentle and effective technique is primarily used to correct myopia (short-sightedness) but in many cases, can also correct hyperopia, astigmatism and even presbyopia. It is an alternative to LASIK for those who are not prepared to have eye surgery.
OrthoK is often suitable for children because, as well as correcting vision, the treatment has also been proven to slow or stop the progression of their myopia overtime, which lowers the risk of developing sight threatening eye disease later in life.
How does it work?
When a person cannot see clearly it may be because the eye is too long, too short or the surface of the eye is out of shape so that images do not focus on the back of the eye (the retina). Normally we correct this by refocussing light with spectacles or contact lenses. With orthoK, the correction is achieved by reversibly changing the shape of the front surface of the eye.
To design an orthoK lens we first map the surface of your eye, using a precision instrument known as a corneal topographer. Your eye care practitioner uses this information along with your prescription to design a customised lens for each eye and its unique vision problems. OrthoK lenses are manufactured on a high-speed computer assisted lathe. They are made of materials that have high oxygen permeability that allow your eyes to ‘breathe’ overnight while you sleep, maintaining eye health. The back surface of the lens has a series of specialised curves that use your tears to gently reshape the cells on the front surface of your eye while you sleep. The result after waking and removing your lenses is clear, sharp vision that is maintained throughout the day.
Is it safe?
OrthoK is a reversible procedure. It was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2002. The Australian Therapeutics Goods Administration recognises the use of orthoK lenses. All contact lens wear (including orthoK) has a small risk of infection, especially if instructions for safe and healthy wear are not followed. The risk of infection with orthoK wear, has been showed to be no higher to that of wearing soft contact lenses overnight. Children actually show a lower infection risk than adults.
Typically, infections can be treated without any long-term consequences. The risk of infection is always greatly reduced by following your cleaning and lens care instructions meticulously, never using tap water with your lenses, only wearing the orthoK lenses as prescribed by your optometrist and attending the necessary follow up visits.
OSO Fellow of the IAOMC
An OSO fellow of the IAOMC is an experienced orthokeratology practitioner that has completed an rigorous education and testing programme to further their orthoK knowledge. All members of the OSO are committed to adhering to the highest standards of care in this specialty and fellows of the IAOMC often act as mentors for new practitioners of orthokeratology.
Find an orthoK practitioner
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