• Mortimer Hirst optometrist Emilie Langley.

Overnight corneal correction: Orthokeratology

Is 2018 the year you gain freedom from visual correction during the day? If so, orthokeratology (OrthoK) is your answer. OrthoK is a non-surgical form of vision correction and an ideal alternative to refractive surgery and for people who prefer not to wear contact lenses or corrective eyewear during the day.

OrthoK is the design and fitting of custom-manufactured contact lenses you wear while you sleep and remove when you wake up. During the night the lenses gently reshape the cornea, the translucent front window of the eye, in a controlled fashion, to improve vision and allow you to see clearly without the aid of conventional contact lenses or corrective eyewear when the lenses are removed. By reshaping the cornea, OrthoK lenses re-focus the light rays, making them focus properly on the retina, the film at the back of the eye, just as standard contact lenses and corrective eyewear do. When you wake, you simply remove the contact lenses, and the reshaped cornea gives you sharp vision for the whole day (often for two days), without having to rely on spectacles or contact lenses. OrthoK is a non-invasive procedure and completely reversible. If the OrthoK lenses are not worn, the elastic cornea simply reverts back to its original shape.

The word orthokeratology is Latin; “ortho” meaning straight/correct and “keratology” meaning the science of altering the shape of the cornea. Just as orthodontics is Latin for straightening teeth, orthokeratology is Latin for correcting the shape of the cornea. 

OrthoK has been receiving worldwide acknowledgement due to a growing body of evidence proving that it can slow down the progression of short-sightedness (myopia) in children during the crucial growing years. Slowing myopia progression is important, as the lower the myopia, the less risk of future potentially blinding ocular health complications such as retinal detachment and glaucoma. We are now well aware that myopia is more than just a refractive error and it is no longer acceptable to just keep updating your child’s spectacles at each appointment as their myopia increases. We can now easily slow down your child’s myopia progression with Ortho-K. OrthoK is also suitable for long-sightedness (hyperopia), astigmatism (two different focal points) and presbyopia (age-related near sight loss).

Mortimer Hirst was one of the earliest adopters of OrthoK and specialises in OrthoK and complex OrthoK fittings. We receive a lot of referrals for OrthoK and troubleshooting difficult OrthoK cases. Our optometrists have been involved and are still involved in numerous OrthoK studies, and have written scientific papers on OrthoK. Mortimer Hirst utilises the very latest state-of-the-art hardware and advanced technology software to custom design and manufacture OrthoK lenses.

We use corneal mapping (topography) to develop a three-dimensional map of the surface curvature of the cornea. This procedure is carried out in seconds and is completely painless. The optometrist/contact lens specialist then utilises the 3-D corneal map to help perfect a bespoke OrthoK contact lens to enhance vision and maintain long term safety and corneal integrity. OrthoK contact lenses are FDA approved for overnight wear.

OrthoK is perfect for active people and people involved in sports such as swimming, surfing, skiing, water polo, rowing, cycling, dancing, tramping, yoga and gymming, who have low to moderate myopia. OrthoK allows them new freedom to be active without having to wear contact lenses or corrective eyewear. OrthoK is also ideal for many different occupations and/or working environments, such as physical, dusty or weather dependent environments, where contact lenses and corrective eyewear may not be suitable; and when daily wear contact lenses become intolerable due to dry eye. OrthoK is also great for young children as it gives parents peace of mind that their child won’t loose or break their eyewear at school.

We advise potential OrthoK wearers to present for an OrthoK assessment as early as possible, as the earlier Ortho-K can commence the easier and more beneficial it is. You should especially bring your children in if they are at risk of myopia (e.g. have parents that are myopic, are an indoor type of child and an avid reader/digital device user) so we can identify any myopic onset, or if your child’s myopia is already progressing.

Visit www.orthok.co.nz for further information.

Written by optometrist Emilie Langley and the clinical team at Mortimer Hirst. emilie@mortimerhirst.co.nz

Mortimer Hirst, 42-44 Hurstmere Road, Takapuna www.mortimerhirst.co.nz