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When You Read, Do You Feel That Your Arms Are Too Short?

This is common for most people that are over forty and is a condition called presbyopia (pres-bee-o-pi-ah). People start to notice that reading the newspaper and seeing at near is no longer clear. From the time we are born, the lens within the eye slowly loses its ability to focus. By the time we are 40 it has lost enough of its focusing ability to impact your vision. People start to notice that reading and seeing at near is becoming difficult.

Orthokeratology, an FDA approved procedure, can help, especially if you don’t want to have to wear glasses to read. For those that have had to wear eyeglasses to see better at distance all of their lives, the transition to having to wear something at near, is not a big deal, but for those that have never had to wear glasses, the adjustment is sometimes a real shocker. 

A recent study abstract in Medscape Today, a review of medical news, cites a study published in the April issue of Optometry and Vision Science. The study documents the benefits of a procedure that has long been offered by doctors that provide Orthokeratology. Orthokeratology is a non-surgical vision correction procedure that provides benefits similar to those of LASIK without the risk and cost of LASIK. Hyperopic Orthokeratology produces changes that enable presbyopes (individuals over forty) to see at near throughout the day without requiring reading glasses. Not all eye doctors provide Orthokeratology similar to the fact that not all dentists provide Orthodonture. 

In the study, subjects wore special therapeutic contact lenses overnight while sleeping.  After 7 nights, the 13 participants (mean age, 51.5 years; range, 43.2 - 58.7 years) were able to see clearly throughout the day. The scientists who conducted the study concluded:  "In this study, we have shown that optical correction of presbyopia can also be achieved with hyperopic [orthokeratology] lenses, bringing the advantages of waking hour visual correction without the need for glasses or contact lenses". The two principle scientists were Paul Gifford, PhD and Helen A. Swarbrick, PhD, of the School of Optometry and Vision Science at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. Those in the study were tested with print the size of normal newspaper print and provided for clear functional near vision correction for most normal reading tasks.

In Orthokeratology, special contact lenses are worn overnight to change the shape of the cornea and therefore change the refractive power temporarily. The cornea is easier to flatten than to steepen, however. This means that it is easier to help people who are nearsighted than those that are farsighted. New designs, new materials, and new computerized instrumentation enable the changes without the need to surgically remove part of the cornea, as is done with refractive laser surgery.  "Eighty percent of the effect happens after the first night. There is regression initially and the effect wears off quickly, but within 1 week, the effect is much stronger, and it lasts much longer," the researchers explained.

Correcting one eye to see clearly at near and one to see clearly at distance, monovision, requires the participant's visual processing system to adjust to having 1 eye seeing differently than the other.  Another procedure, multifocal orthokeratology, enables individuals to see at distance and at near uncorrected with both eyes. 

 DOCUME 1bbLOCALS 1Tempmsohtmlclip11clip image001Cary Herzberg, OD, FIAO, president of both the International Academy of Orthokeratology and the Orthokeratology Academy of America, told Medscape Medical News that the Australian study confirms what he and other eye care practitioners have concluded based on their clinical experiences.  The study was funded in part by Bausch & Lomb Boston.


Dr. S. Moshe Roth, Optometric Physician, practices at Family Eye Care, in Old Bridge.  He is Board Certified in Vision Development and Therapy.  He sees patients of all ages, for treatment of eye diseases as well as for vision problems.  He has prescribed Orthokeratology for over 20 years.  Lic#  4635 OM# 27OM0005600.  Dr. Roth is a popular speaker with parents and professional groups and may be reached at 1-732-679-2020.