What if you could reshape your corneas so that you didn't need glasses or contact lenses without having surgery to do it? It just might be possible through a process called orthokeratology. Never heard of it? You aren't alone, but it can hugely benefit some people. Here's what you should know about this non-surgical option for better vision.

What Is Orthokeratology?

Orthokeratology is also known as "OrthoK" or "corneal refractive therapy." Usually, patients wear special hard contact lenses at night while they sleep. The rigid lenses are gas-permeable and are designed to reshape the patient's corneas in order to correct either nearsighted vision or an astigmatism. Sometimes it can even be used to help with presbyopia, or the difficulty reading small print that's often associated with aging and that usually requires bifocals or progressive reading lenses.

What Are The Benefits Of Orthokeratology?

Patients only have to wear the lenses while they sleep and the results can be dramatic. While it usually takes a few weeks to develop the full benefits, some people get results after only one night. Even better, around 90% of patients can expect to achieve 20/40 vision or better - and more than half will achieve 20/20 vision. Even better, a number of studies indicate that orthokeratology can actually inhibit the long-term progression of nearsightedness.

The process is particularly useful for patients who don't want to wear glasses but can't easily wear contact lenses during the day to due to allergies, a dusty work environment, or dry eyes. For those who suffer only from age-related presbyopia, orthokeratology can prevent the need for annoying reading glasses at work.

Orthokeratology offers several advantages over surgical treatment as well, including:

  • The procedure is non-permanent and reversible. All you have to do is stop wearing the lenses and the shape of your corneas will return to their pre-treatment normal.
  • The procedure can be used for children and teenagers who are too young for LASIK.
  • Surgical treatments are invasive and run the risk of injury, infection, or post-surgical complications.

What Are The Disadvantages of Orthokeratology?

Just like any other medical procedure, there are people who won't benefit from orthokeratology as well as others, such as:

  • People who suffer from chronic eye infections generally aren't good candidates.
  • People with very flat corneas that can't be easily shaped by the lenses don't tend to see much benefit.
  • Patients with severe astigmatisms or extreme nearsightedness are less likely to benefit than those with mild astigmatisms or mild nearsightedness.

It's also important to note that not everyone who uses orthokeratology is able to go entirely without glasses or contacts, especially if the goal is to treat presbyopia. And, not all traditional vision insurance plans will automatically cover the lenses needed for orthokeratology.

Because your eyes are unique, so is your situation. Talk to your optometrist, such as those found at Glacier Eye Clinic, to see if you can benefit from this unique way to reshape your corneas without the need for surgery.