Many people who need vision correction wear contacts during the day and take them out for sleep at night. What if it could work the other way around? What if you could wear your contact lenses while sleeping and take them out for clear vision during the day?
As wild as it sounds, this is exactly the science of orthokeratology. Orthokeratology, or ortho-k, is a new solution for nearsighted people who are not comfortable wearing daily contact lenses. These lenses actually reshape your eyes as you wear them through the night.
While you sleep, specially designed contact lenses change the surface of your cornea. The process is gentle and takes place over the course of the evening. When you wake up, the cornea has been reshaped enough to allow for clear sight throughout the day. Eventually the cornea moves back into its normal shape, but by that time you should be ready to put the contact lenses back in for sleep.
There are currently two ortho-k contact lens brands with FDA approval. One is Bausch & Lomb’s Visual Shaping Treatment and the other is Paragon Vision Sciences' Corneal Refractive Therapy. Your eye care professional should be able to tell you if you are a good candidate for one of these types of lenses.
If you are nearsighted, you are probably eligible for ortho-k. There are no age restrictions. Although patients with a lower degree of myopia are better candidates, corneal refractive therapy has been approved for people with as much as six diopters of myopia. For visual shaping treatment, you can have as much as five diopters of myopia. Some patients considering LASIK may opt for ortho-k lenses instead. Both choices allow for daily non-wear of contact lenses, but LASIK is more invasive and irreversible.
The amount it will cost for an examination and fitting for ortho-k lenses varies according to your eye care practitioner. The current average cost is between $800 and $1500 for the initial pair, plus additional cost when replacement lenses are required.