It is often distressing for a parent when they realize that their child can't see as well as they thought they should.
You have brought your child to the eye doctor. Both you and your child feel stressed as your child squints to see the letters on the eye chart. Most doctors still simply prescribe a higher and higher eyeglass prescription and you are frustrated.
There has been an incredible increase in the number and percent of children becoming more nearsighted (myopic). There are a number of ways this can be addressed rather than just falling into the old routine of simply prescribing a higher power each year. Eyeglasses are the traditional answer, but what if there was a better way to stem the progression.
Orthokeratology, often called Ortho-k for short, is one option. Most people have not heard of this choice even though it was developed over 60 years ago and it is FDA approved. Just as only some dentists become orthodontists, only some eye doctors choose to learn how to prescribe orthokeratology.
Ortho-K Has High Success Rates in Slowing Down Myopia
Today it is commonly agreed that eyeglasses to compensate for nearsighted vision is not enough. Most parents want a better answer for their children. Myopia progresses during childhood, and young adults may find themselves with high levels of myopia, and at risk of developing severe eye diseases. These serious eye diseases are: retinal detachment, myopic macular degeneration, and glaucoma, conditions that can lead to vision loss or even blindness later in life.
Fortunately, modern optometry offers a variety of treatments to manage myopia and keep it from progressing to dangerous levels. Orthokeratology (ortho-k) has proven highly successful and is convenient for the wearer. Studies show a 36-56% slower progression of myopia in children treated with ortho-k compared to other options that have some to marginal success rates.
What Makes Ortho-K Unique?
Ortho-k is often referred to as corneal reshaping therapy. It utilizes special THERAPEUTIC contact lens that reshape the eye rather than regular COMPENSATING lenses. Children as young as 6 can wear the ortho-k lens overnight to provide them with perfect vision during the day. The concept is similar to how dentists use braces and then the individual wears a retainer in the mouth to "retain" the position of the teeth. Ortho-k lenses purposefully induces temporary change that last through the following day. This is why Ortho-K is reversible and safe at any age. This is why, unlike LASIK, this is FDA approved for ALL ages.
Reshaping is accomplished by wearing custom-made lenses overnight, while your child is asleep. In the morning, your child removes the lenses, and the cornea maintains its new shape. The benefit is two fold.
- Your child can see the board in school.
- Your child's prescription often does not get worse each year, as it would otherwise, with regular eyeglasses or regular contact lenses.
Clear vision is achieved by changing the corneal shape rather than a visual aid. This has been proven over and over since 1962.
Ortho-K Is Becoming the Standard for Myopia Management
Ortho-k has been available for more than half a century and has been gaining popularity in recent years thanks to advanced technologies, higher efficiency, and easier handling.
Dr. Roth has offered Orthokeratology for nearly 30 years and has considerable experience. We have many videos of many of our patients or various ages who have been in ortho-K for years. We use as special instrument called a digital corneal topographer that measures and maps the corneal surface. We can then design precise custom ortho-k lenses that are made specifically for your / your child's eyes. The topographer enables us to monitor the improvement attained by using the special lenses and enables us to measure this with high accuracy.
Ortho-k is also popular because it is extremely convenient. Many kids don't like to wear eyeglasses and feel self conscious. Regular contact lenses can dry out over time and makes the eyes feel dry. This then causes an extra distraction when reading an studying. Since children wear ortho-k lenses only when they sleep, and don’t need lenses or glasses during the day, they can go about their day unencumbered.
Ways to Manage Myopia
Four main treatments can slow down the progression of myopia. Each has its advantages and is suitable for different circumstances.
- Orthokeratology - custom overnight lenses reshape the cornea and provide clear vision during the day. These have been proven to slow down myopia progression and are safe. The lenses are worn only at night and the child is free of glasses or contacts throughout the day.
- Vision Therapy addresses the underlying cause that is producing myopia. The "fire" that is producing the "smoke".
- Special Soft Contact Lenses, a specific type of contact lens, called a distance center multifocal soft contact lens, can slow down myopia progression.
- Bifocal eyeglass lenses can also slow down myopia progression if a focusing problem is at its root.
- Atropine eye drops - applying low-dose atropine eye drops once a day has been shown to slow down myopia progression. There are few side-effects of this medication, and the eye drops can be used in combination with corrective lenses.
Several factors need to be taken into consideration when determining whether ortho-k is the correct answer for your child. These include age, myopia level, and general eye health.
We will discuss ortho-k as one of the options to assess the best way to manage your child’s myopia. At Family Eye Care in Old Bridge NJ, we will help you find the best possible option for your child. Schedule an eye exam with Dr. Roth to evaluate how to best prevent myopia from progressing and be comfortable at the same time.