Progression of Myopia

What is Ortho-K and what are the benefits?

Orthokeratology or “Ortho-K”, is the technique of using specially designed rigid contact lenses to mould the shape of the cornea (the front window of the eye) to reduce the short-sighted or myopic errors of the eye. The process is highly likely to halt the progression of myopia.

These lenses are worn during sleep and are removed upon wakening, resulting in clear vision during the day without the use of glasses or contact lenses. It is a non-surgical procedure and, unlike laser surgery, the effects are reversible and non-permanent. This gives patients the ability to be free of contact lenses and spectacles during all waking hours, which may be particularly beneficial for athletes or those who work in dusty environments.

This unique process is performed at our clinic with the support of our state of the art equipment. Our specialised instruments can measure the length of your eyeball, thereby allowing us to track your progression of myopia.

Studies estimate that on average, 30% of the world is currently myopic and that by 2050, this will jump to 50%! Myopia increases the risk of developing glaucoma, myopic degeneration and retinal detachments, which can lead to irreversible blindness.

Ortho-K has been shown to be have one of the highest success rates in controlling myopia.

(This is an example of what the lens looks like on the eye to flatten the cornea (central black bit) to move the light on the retina for clear vision)

How does Ortho-K work?

Hydrostatic pressure applied by the Ortho-K lens gently changes the shape of the cornea by manipulating the tear film between itself and the cornea. In technical terms, the central part of the cornea flattens as epithelial cells from the surface of the eye move out peripherally. This flattening changes the prescription of the eye and hence delivers clearer vision. If you choose to stop using the Ortho-K lens, the corneal cells return to their normal distribution within days.

Who would benefit the most?

  • Lower levels of myopia (up to -4.00 dioptres) have a higher success rate of Ortho-K, however higher prescriptions may also achieve freedom from glasses and day contact lens use
  • Short sighted adults who feel uncomfortable in their contact lenses or would like to be free from glasses, particularly those who work in front of computers, in air-conditioned offices, or in smoky or dusty environments.
  • Short sighted children and adults who would like to be glasses free but cannot afford or are worried about potential risks of refractive surgery
  • Short sighted children who are still developing myopia and are therefore not candidates for laser eye surgery

Results can be affected by individual corneal shapes and rigidity. The cornea is flattened during Ortho-K treatment and if a cornea is that is very flat to begin with, it may not be possible to flatten it further, leading to a less favourable outcome. Rest assured however, we will examine your eyes and discuss your suitability for this treatment prior to making a recommendation.

How does Ortho-K slow or stop myopia from getting worse?

Research indicates that peripheral retinal blur is one of the causes for the progression of myopia. Ortho-K reduces myopia progression by reducing peripheral retinal blur.

What is peripheral retinal blur?

The back of the eye (retina) is ideally spherical and not a flat surface but this is not the case. One sees clearly because the light coming to the central vision is focused accurately at the retina. However, sometimes the light focused on the peripheral retina is focused behind the retina. This mismatch has been shown to drive the growth of the eyeball to accommodate the peripheral defocus causing eyes to elongate and become short sighted. We can keep track on how long your eyeball (axial length) is and whether our treatment is successful or not in stopping this elongation.

What’s the procedure?

  1. Book an eye test with our specially trained Optometrist and have your corneal topography maps and axial length taken.
  2. Discuss outcomes and costs, and decide if Ortho-K is right for you or your child.
  3. Pay a deposit to order the personalised Ortho-K lenses.
  4. When the lenses arrive, we will contact you to make an appointment for a fitting and to teach insertion and removal of the contact lenses.
  5. Return to the Clinic, wearing the lenses on the first morning, within two hours of waking.
  6. Return at one week, one fortnight and one month. At these appointments, tweaks to your lenses may be made to improve your vision.
  7. After this, a 3 month and 6 month appointment will be made to check progression.