Orthokeratology, or ortho-k, is considered by many as “orthodontics for the eyes” since this treatment reshapes the cornea.
Ortho-k lenses are specially designed and fitted gas-permeable contact lenses that reshape the cornea to improve your vision.
With this treatment, you wear the lenses at night to reshape the front surface of your eyes while you’re sleeping.
When you remove the lenses in the morning, you’ll have clear vision for the rest of the day without the need to wear eyeglasses or regular contacts.
This surgery-free treatment is used to correct myopia or nearsightedness, presbyopia, astigmatism, and sometimes, children’s vision.
Vision improvements brought about by the treatment are reversible. However, these effects can be maintained if you continue wearing the ortho-k lenses as directed by your eye specialist.
Must-Know Tips About Wearing Ortho-K Lenses
If you’re considering ortho-K lenses as a treatment option to correct your nearsightedness, presbyopia, or astigmatism, below are some important tips you need to know to get the best results:
Consult a qualified eye care specialist about this treatment.
Before considering ortho-k lenses as a treatment option, consult a trusted, qualified eye care professional first.
An ophthalmologist will assess your vision problem and decide if ortho-k lenses are suitable for you. They will provide you with details about the procedure, including the risks and benefits, as well.
If you already have an ophthalmologist, ask them if they have experience in orthokeratology.
If you need to look for another eye specialist, ensure they are qualified and trained in providing ortho-k treatment and are highly recommended by their patients.
Ensure your ortho-k lenses are a perfect fit.
Ortho-k lenses call for a precise fit to achieve optimal results. As such, your eye specialist needs to ensure you have the right lenses.
Your eye care specialist will use a corneal topographer, a specialized instrument, to measure and map the shape of your cornea and determine the best fit for the lenses.
Once they have the details, they will have your lenses specially made to fit your eyes.
Keep in mind that improperly fitted lenses can lead to discomfort and other complications. Therefore, you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of the corneal topography process.
Be consistent with wearing your lenses.
Once you start with this treatment, you must follow a consistent wearing schedule to ensure the best results.
Ortho-k lenses are designed to be worn while you sleep and should be removed upon waking. You should wear them for at least six hours at night.
Avoid skipping nights or wearing the lenses for longer than recommended, which is usually eight hours, since this can affect the effectiveness of the treatment.
Follow your doctor’s care and maintenance guidelines.
Taking care of and maintaining your ortho-k lenses are essential to prevent discomfort and possible eye abrasions or injuries.
As such, follow the recommended cleaning and disinfection instructions provided by your eye care specialist, which include the following:
- Cleaning your lenses every morning after use.
- Washing your hands thoroughly before handling the lenses.
- Never using tap water or saliva to clean your lenses.
- Using the specialized cleaning solution to clean your lenses.
- Massaging a few drops of cleaning solution on each side of the lens for at least one minute to ensure it is spotless.
- Replacing your lenses according to the recommended schedule to prevent the buildup of bacteria and other harmful microorganisms that can hurt your eyes.
- Replacing the lenses immediately once you notice cracks or scratches on them.
Store your lenses properly.
After cleaning and rinsing your lenses, store them properly.
To do this correctly, fill the storage case with a fresh soaking solution and insert your clean lenses inside it carefully.
Make sure the storage case is always clean and sterile. If it is dirty, rinse it with the cleaning or saline solution you were given.
Avoid cleaning the case with tap water since it may contain bacteria that may cause an eye infection.
Air dry it thoroughly after each use to prevent moisture from remaining in the container, which can become a breeding ground for bacteria.
Also, ensure your storage case is not exposed to irritants, such as household cleaning products or perfumes, that can get into your lenses.
Avoid rubbing your eyes and getting your lenses wet.
Rubbing your eyes can dislodge your ortho-k lenses, which can cause discomfort and affect the effectiveness of the treatment.
Therefore, avoid rubbing your eyes even if they feel itchy.
If you feel any itching or discomfort, ask your ophthalmologist for eye drops you can use for relief and additional advice.
Also, avoid exposing your lenses to water since this can cause contamination and affect the effectiveness of the treatment.
This means removing your lenses before bathing or swimming and using protective eyewear when participating in water activities.
Keep up with your doctor appointments.
Regular follow-up appointments with your eye doctor allow them to monitor the progress of your treatment and detect any potential issues.
You’ll need follow-up tests every four to six months, or according to your specialist’s recommendation, to have your lenses and ocular surface examined and ensure they are still safe to wear.
During these appointments, your specialist will evaluate the condition of your eyes and the effectiveness of the treatment. They will make adjustments to your lenses if necessary.
It is important to see your doctor during your scheduled appointments to ensure the best possible outcome and to maintain the health of your eyes.
Be patient with the results.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, it can take two weeks or longer to achieve the maximum vision correction from ortho-k treatment.
Some people may experience significant vision improvement within a few days, while others may wait several weeks or months to see any positive effects.
Also, you may experience some discomfort during the first few days of wearing your ortho-k lenses, particularly when you have your eyes open. However, this usually improves over time.
Whether you think it’s taking you long to see some improvements or you’re feeling uncomfortable wearing the lenses, be patient. And be consistent with the treatment to achieve the best possible outcome.
Ortho-k is a safe and effective treatment option if you want to correct your vision without surgery.
By following these tips and working with a qualified eye care specialist, you can achieve the best possible outcome and enjoy clearer vision.