If you or your child is short-sighted (struggles to see things further away) you might have heard about orthokeratology.
Also known as OK or ortho-K, orthokeratology has been around since the 1960s. However, it has gained interest recently for its ability to slow the progression of myopia (short-sightedness).
Orthokeratology involves wearing a specially-designed rigid contact lens overnight. Like a mould, the lens temporarily reshapes the eye while you sleep, by gently changing the profile of the cornea (the eye’s clear, protective outer layer that acts like a powerful lens).
This creates a temporary change; when you wake up, you take the lens off and voilà! You can see clearly.
Typically, you will see a rapid improvement in your vision in the first few days of treatment. Expect maximum vision correction in about three weeks.
And most importantly, there’s good evidence it can help slow the progression of myopia¹.
Like all treatments, however, orthokeratology has its pros and cons – and its risks need to be well understood before use.
The pros of Ortho-K lenses
Here are some advantages of using Ortho-K lenses:
- Ortho-K lenses are worn during the night, just before going to sleep. Then they are removed in the morning, allowing you to have a clear vision as you go about your day without the need to wear glasses or contact lenses. This is a great option for children as they can see clearly for school, sports, swimming, and other activities without the inconvenience of glasses.
- Studies¹ show that Ortho-K lenses slow down the progression of myopia by gently changing the profile of the cornea (the eye’s clear, protective outer layer that acts like a powerful lens).
- Ortho-K lenses are customised based on your eye shape, curvature and required treatment effect.
- Since these lenses are used overnight at home, parents can help their children with insertion and removal, especially if they are young.
The cons of Ortho-K lenses
The potential downsides of using Ortho-K lenses include:
- No solution can currently cure myopia, including Ortho-K lenses. The effect is temporary, and you need to wear these lenses every night.
- There might be a bit of discomfort and eye sensitivity during the first few days of wearing Ortho-K lenses. Don’t worry, because your eyes may simply be adapting to wearing rigid lenses. This improves gradually on a daily basis.
- As parents, we worry about eye infections, but do note that the risk of infection in children using Ortho-K Lenses is low6,7. Always observe good eye hygiene and lens care, and strictly follow the instructions given by your eye care practitioner.
Why it is important to slow down the progression of myopia
Singapore is often labelled as the “Myopia Capital of the World” – 65 percent of children are myopic² by Primary 6, and 83 percent of young adults are myopic. It is projected that 80 to 90 percent of Singaporean adults will become myopic. Of which, 15 to 25 percent of them will have high myopia by 2050³.
Studies⁴ show that the earlier a child gets myopia, the faster it will progress, and continue to worsen.
Research⁵ also shows that young children who develop myopia before the age of 12 are more at risk of developing high myopia, leading to increased risks of sight-threatening diseases such as myopic macular degeneration and retinal detachment.
What’s clear is that, as parents, we should be doing something to control our kids’ myopia. It is best to start using myopia control from a young age to prevent deterioration of their eye health. It is also advisable to use myopia control full-time until your child becomes an adult.
Do note that other solutions exist alongside Ortho-K lenses, so be sure to seek advice from an eyecare professional to review the appropriate solution for your child first.
Importantly, do schedule 6-monthly eye exams8 with your eye care professional to monitor the progression of myopia.
This article is presented by ACUVUE® Abiliti™ Overnight Therapeutic Lenses. If you are concerned about your child’s vision, head over to https://www.seeyourabiliti.com/sg/ to do a risk assessment now.
You can also book an eye health check-up with an ACUVUE Abiliti™ authorised eye care practitioner, and find out more about how ACUVUE® Abiliti™ Overnight Therapeutic Lenses control the progression of myopia in children.
¹ Effect of Orthokeratology on myopia progression: twelve-year results of a retrospective cohort study https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5721542/
² Karuppiah, V., Wong, L., Tay, V., Ge, X., & Kang, L. L. (2021). School-based programme to address childhood myopia in Singapore. Singapore Medical Journal, 62(2), 63–68. https://doi.org/10.11622/SMEDJ.2019144
³ Holden, B. A., Fricke, T. R., Wilson, D. A., Jong, M., Naidoo, K. S., Sankaridurg, P., Wong, T. Y., Naduvilath, T. J., & Resnikoff, S. (2016). Global Prevalence of Myopia and High Myopia and Temporal Trends from 2000 through 2050. Ophthalmology, 123(5), 1036–1042. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ophtha.2016.01.006
⁴Chua, S. Y. L., Sabanayagam, C., Cheung, Y.-B., Chia, A., Valenzuela, R. K., Tan, D., Wong, T.-Y., Cheng, C.-Y., & Saw, S.-M. (2016). Age of onset of myopia predicts risk of high myopia in later childhood in myopic Singapore children. Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics, 36(4), 388–394. https://doi.org/10.1111/opo.12305
⁵ Haarman, A. E. G., Enthoven, C. A., Willem Tideman, J. L., Tedja, M. S., Verhoeven, V. J. M., & Klaver, C. C. W. (2020). The complications of myopia: A review and meta-analysis. Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, 61(4), 1–3. https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.61.4.49
6 Van Meter WS, Musch DC, Jacobs DS, Kaufman SC, Reinhart WJ, Udell IJ; American Academy of Ophthalmology. Safety of overnight orthokeratology for myopia: a report by the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Ophthalmology. 2008 Dec;115(12):2301-2313.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2008.06.034. Epub 2008 Sep 20. PMID: 18804868.
7 Bullimore MA, Sinnott LT, Jones-Jordan LA. The risk of microbial keratitis with overnight corneal reshaping lenses. Optom Vis Sci. 2013 Sep;90(9):937-44. doi: 10.1097/OPX.0b013e31829cac92. PMID: 23892491.
8CODE OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT AND PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE GUIDELINES FOR OPTOMETRISTS & OPTICIANS, revised 2018 on frequency of eye check, page 12: https://www.healthprofessionals.gov.sg/docs/librariesprovider6/default-document-library/english-ver–moh-oob-code-of-professional-conduct-(oct2018).pdf