Myopia, or nearsightedness, is becoming more common in children, and while it isn’t reversible, slowing the progression of myopia can prevent it from worsening. Once a child is diagnosed with myopia through an eye exam, an optometrist can provide solutions to help with myopia control.
Myopia solutions can include special eyeglasses or contact lenses, such as orthokeratology, or ortho-k, lenses. These contact lenses are worn at night to reshape the cornea (the clear front portion of the eye) and correct nearsightedness.
About Myopia & Myopia Control
Myopia occurs when the eye is too long or the cornea is steeply curved, which prevents light from properly bending to create a clear image. Light bends in front of the retina (the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye) instead of on it, causing distant objects to appear blurry. Myopia usually begins in childhood, but it can occur in adults too. However, myopia typically only progresses in children because their vision is frequently changing until it stabilizes at around age 20.
Correcting myopia with eyeglasses and contact lenses can help you see more clearly, but with myopia progression, you may need new prescriptions as your eyes change. Myopia can also increase your risk of developing other eye problems later in life, such as cataracts, glaucoma, and retinal detachment. Slowing myopia progression can protect eye health during childhood, teenage years, and beyond.
Myopia control can include using multifocal contact lenses and orthokeratology. Multifocal contact lenses have different areas of focus on the lens to correct blurry distance vision and help slow eye growth.
Ortho-K is an alternative treatment method to traditional eyeglasses or contact lenses for correcting myopia. It involves specialized contact lenses worn overnight, designed to reshape the cornea to improve visual acuity during the day.
Ortho-k contact lenses are rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses that are more durable and allow more oxygen to reach the cornea for healthy eyes. These lenses may not be suitable for everyone.
An eye exam to assess your eye health, and tests to map the shape and measure the size of your cornea, can help determine if you’re a candidate for ortho-k lenses. This information, plus eye measurements, help in the design of special lenses for your eyes.
How Ortho-K Lenses Work
Ortho-k lenses, worn only at night, gently reshape the cornea while you sleep. By carefully manipulating your cornea’s shape and flattening the center, they help light bend correctly as it enters the eye.
Once you remove ortho-k lenses, the cornea remains flattened without needing glasses or daytime contact lenses. Unlike laser eye surgery, which involves permanently altering the shape of the cornea, the effects of ortho-k lenses are reversible. If you stop wearing the lenses, your vision will return to its original state. However, you can maintain vision correction and cornea reshaping with regular use of your ortho-k lenses.
Apart from using ortho-k for partial or full myopia correction, it’s also shown to slow myopic progression in children by 36–56%. It does this by slowing and sometimes stopping the growth of the eye.
Myopia control methods, like ortho-k, help shift peripheral vision to focus in front of the retina. These methods can slow eye growth to prevent myopia progression in children.
Benefits of Ortho-K Lenses
Some other forms of myopia correction, such as LASIK, are not recommended for children until their vision is stable. Ortho-k is suitable to correct changing vision and treat myopia in children.
Other benefits of ortho-k lenses:
- They are non-invasive and reversible.
- They are very convenient since cornea reshaping occurs while you sleep, and you don’t have to worry about inserting and removing contact lenses throughout the day.
- They offer the freedom of not wearing glasses during the day. This can be especially appealing for those who participate in sports and other activities or who prefer the aesthetics of not wearing eyeglasses.
Slowing Myopia to Protect Your Vision
Overnight ortho-k lenses can slow myopia progression in children and teens and may be a good option for you. It’s essential to have a thorough eye exam and consultation with your eye doctor to determine if ortho-k is a viable option.