Can you see nearby objects clearly, but those that are further away appear increasingly more blurred and out of focus? If you can say ‘yes’ to this question, you are almost certainly suffering from myopia. Myopia is the most common refractive condition in the world, estimated to affect more than 2.6 billion people worldwide – a number that is predicted to continue to grow.
While myopia is a progressive condition, fortunately, there are now treatments available that can keep it under control and prevent it from getting any worse. One of the most effective management options for myopia is known as Ortho-K.
Here's what you need to know about myopia and how it can be managed using Ortho-K.
Myopia is a refractive eye condition. What this means is that it’s caused by a problem with the way that light is processed as it enters your eyes. For perfectly clear vision, the cornea, which is the clear dome covering the front part of the eye, refracts light as it enters the eye so that it is directed straight onto the cornea – the area at the back of the eye that is responsible for receiving light and turning it into signals sent to the brain. However, in people with myopia, the cornea has an abnormal rather than perfectly even curve, and this causes light to be refracted in front of the retina instead. As a result, the messages sent from the retina to the brain are confused, resulting in blurred vision.
Myopia can develop at any stage of life, but it is particularly common in childhood when the eye grows too long compared to the focusing power of the lens. The trouble with myopia is that if it isn’t treated, it nearly always gets worse, meaning that your vision will get progressively more blurred as time goes on. The other issue is that high myopia levels have been linked to a range of other eye issues too – many of which can have serious consequences for our long-term vision. For example, people with high myopia have been found to be significantly more at risk of developing retinal detachment, which can cause irreversible blindness.
Fortunately, there are treatments that can slow or even halt the progression of myopia, including Ortho-K.
Ortho-K stands for orthokeratology – an innovative treatment for controlling myopia. Orthokeratology works by altering the shape of the cornea while you sleep, gently forcing it into a much more even shape that enables light to be refracted correctly. This may seem silly since you are asleep at the time, but this treatment has been proven to help slow the progression of myopia.
The treatment works using bespoke contact lenses that are designed specifically to correct your corneal abnormalities. While contact lenses typically shouldn’t be worn overnight, the lenses used in Ortho-K are perfectly safe to be kept in while you sleep. This is because they are made from special gas-permeable material that enables oxygen to pass through them and reach the surface of your eyes, preventing them from drying out. As you sleep, your Ortho-K lenses will apply gentle pressure to the cornea to reshape it. In the morning, you simply remove your Ortho-K lenses and pop them in their container for cleaning, before carrying on with your usual day-to-day activities.
Patients who choose Ortho-K also reap an added benefit in that their eyes will be able to retain their new shape for some time the next day. The more consistently the lenses are worn, the longer the eyes will retain their new and improved shape so that they can see clearly without glasses or contact lenses during the day.
Ortho-K is suitable for the vast majority of patients, although you will need to have an assessment to check you are a good candidate for the treatment before you can go ahead. To find out more about Ortho-K, visit Tri-City Optometry in Fremont, CA. Call (510) 602-2020 to schedule an appointment today.