What is Orthokeratology?
I hate wearing glasses, so 99% of the time, I just refuse to wear them. LASIK surgery seems awesome since it corrects your eyesight and eliminates the need for glasses, but I don’t have thousands of dollars for that. Besides, eye surgery sounds quite scary.
Orthokeratology is another option. It corrects your eyesight and eliminates the need to wear glasses by temporarily reshaping your cornea. There’s no surgery involved, and it’s typically half the cost of LASIK surgery.
What is Orthokeratology?
Orthokeratology (Ortho-K) involves wearing specially-fitted, gas-permeable contact lenses while you sleep. The lenses are designed to reshape your cornea. When you wake up, you take them out and can see without your glasses for a day or two. It’s a temporary effect. You’re supposed to wear the lenses every night.
What Conditions Can Orthokeratology Help?
Most people can benefit from Ortho-K lenses. People with nearsightedness and astigmatism have seen incredible results. Sometimes it can correct farsightedness as well.
The lenses are also used to help slow the progression of nearsightedness in children.
How Do You Get Ortho-K Lenses?
You’ll need to get tested and fitted with the correct lenses by an optometrist trained in orthokeratology. Some ophthalmologists also do ortho-K fittings. You can help locate a trained doctor near you at orthokacademy.com or at orthokdoctors.com.
At the exam, the doctor will measure your corneas with a corneal topographer. It’s painless and non-invasive and only takes a minute.
He will probably order you a special pair of ortho-K lenses. Sometimes it takes a little trial and error to find the right ones, though, so it could take 2 or 3 different tries to get the perfect lens for you.
How Much Does It Cost?
Of course, prices vary by location and by doctor, but you can expect to pay about $1000-$2000 for both eyes (in the U.S). However, those with more difficult vision problems (like more astigmatism) can expect to pay more. Ortho-K testing and lenses can cost as much as $4000 for some people and in some locations.
LASIK surgery usually costs twice as much.
Since this is a temporary solution to vision problems, you will need to see your doctor at least once a year and spend money buying lenses. You should expect to spend about $300-$500 a year on that.
Why Opt for Ortho-K?
Sometimes people aren’t approved for LASIK surgery because of other medical conditions or because of age. Ortho-K makes sense for those who can’t have (or don’t want) surgery.
If you use the ortho-K lenses, you can always opt for surgery later. You’ll have to check with your doctor and probably have to wait a while after you stop using the ortho-K lenses, though.
Once you stop wearing the lenses, the effect goes away, so it is a reversible situation. LASIK surgery isn’t.
Ortho-K is usually cheaper than surgery and carries less risk. This makes it an appealing option.
It’s effective for most people. Studies have demonstrated that most people (more than 95% of those with nearsightedness) achieve 20/20 or 20/30 vision without glasses using these corneal reshaping lenses.
How Long Does It Take to Work?
How quickly it corrects your vision depends. Some people see clearly after a day or two of wearing them. Others can take a couple of weeks.
Initially, you’ll probably feel the lenses at night, but you’ll get used to it fairly quickly. Sometimes people report seeing halos of light or other slight vision problems in the beginning. The optometrist will explain everything that might happen and how to deal with it, though.
This video shows how the process works (you can start at 0:35):