There are contact lenses you can wear while sleeping at night… to see better in the morning!
Johannesburg, South Africa – Orthokeratology also referred to as Ortho-K, Overnight Vision Correction, Corneal Refractive Therapy and CRT is a process that uses specially designed gas permeable contact lenses to reshape the contour of the cornea to reduce myopia temporarily.
“I have been wearing glasses since I was 7-years-old and contact lenses since I was a teen.
The idea of waking up and being able to see properly has always been a dream of mine, and for the past five years I have looked into refractive surgery but always stopped the process before signing on the dotted line.
There are many reasons why but I guess the reality is that I am just too scared to have laser surgery on my eyes.
This year when starting the process my Optometrist, Chantelle Brits, suggested a different route… one I had never heard of before but one that would be completely life-changing!”
This method can be used as an alternative to glasses, refractive surgery, or for those who prefer not to wear contact lenses during the day.
“Basically, it’s “magical” contact lenses that you wear while you sleep to correct your eyes.”
The orthokeratology website ortho-k.net explains in lay-terms that the mechanism behind Ortho-K is that around 60% of the eye’s focusing power is provided by the cornea, and this is extremely sensitive to very small changes: 6 µm flattening of corneal thickness (around 5% of the thickness of a human hair) results in 1 diopter of changed vision in myopia. Therefore a specially shaped lens can be used to lightly press the cornea, causing it gradually to be reshaped to the correct shape for focused vision. The corrective effect lasts up to 72 hours once initially acclimatised, which is long enough to be a practical means of eyesight correction.
“My Ortho-K lenses arrived two weeks after measurements were taken and my eyes completely changed after wearing them for just 15 minutes! Chantelle showed me how to put them in and lay down all the rules about not skipping nights, keeping them clean, and putting the plug in the sink EVERY SINGLE TIME I am working with them.”
I don’t need glasses anymore… for the first time in my life I can see clearly!!!**Just an update & to explain as I was a little overwhelmed in the video:I have been wearing glasses and contact lenses since I was 7. I cannot see without some sort of assistance, and wake up every morning to a blur.Today, for the first time in my life I am able to see completely unassisted. My incredible optometrist, Chantelle Brits, told me about contact lenses that "reshape" your eyes while you sleep. Started the process a little under 3 weeks ago (your eyes need to be tested and graphed so that the contact lenses can be moulded to fit your eyes specifically), and I got my new lenses from Australia today. Popped them in, had a 15 minute nap, took them out and I can see properly for the first time in my life.I'm not sure what kind of crazy voodoo science this is, but I am blown away and so incredibly grateful.Over & out… I'm off to go look at all the things.
Posted by Brent Lindeque on Wednesday, 3 April 2019
The idea is that you wear the specialised Ortho-K lenses while sleeping and remove them in the morning when you wake up for stable vision throughout the day. Some people experience good vision after a day or two of overnight Ortho-K, while others take longer. Typically, higher prescriptions can take two weeks or more for maximum correction. Basically, refractive error, corneal shape and corneal tissue determine the time effect for Ortho-K.
“After two weeks of using the lenses, I had a check-up to see how my eyes had adjusted and if the process had worked… and the for my eyes results were unbelievable!!!
My near-sightedness is 100% gone, I have 20/20 vision in both eyes and only have a slight astigmatism in my right eye which will be gone in a week or so of continuous use.”
Risks are comparable to or safer than ordinary contact lenses since they are typically worn for much shorter periods (6–8 hours rather than daytime or 24/7) and while asleep rather than while active. They also compare favourably to surgical correction since no surgery is involved, corrections to the eye’s shape can be handled over time (surgery corrects vision at a single point in time, but ongoing post-operative changes to eyesight will continue to occur during the patient’s lifetime), and it is considered generally safe for younger patients.
In addition, Ortho-K is broadly not ‘new’ from a safety viewpoint; contact lens safety generally speaking is considered to be well understood. However it is important, as with all contact lenses, to maintain good cleaning and hygiene discipline.
Rigid lenses are generally considered to be not as comfortable as soft lenses, but Ortho-K is claimed to avoid the feeling during waking hours of the eyelids moving over the lens edges while blinking. When Ortho-K lenses are worn, the eyes are closed for sleep, although the same issues that accompany wearing contact lenses during sleep (rapid eye movements and lower tear production) remain.
Ortho-K can treat myopia up to -8.00, astigmatism up to -4.00 and small amounts of hyperopia up to about +3.00. In certain cases a slight multifocal correction can be achieved for presbyopic patients. The more complicated cases mentioned above were not possible before computerized imaging was available.
How long have Ortho-K lenses been around?
Doctors discovered the reshaping phenomena of glass lenses as early as the 1940s and this history of orthokeratology includes contributions made by multiple authors to the use of contact lenses for myopia reduction.
George Jessen created what was probably the first orthokeratology design in the 1960s made from PMMA material, which he marketed as “Orthofocus”. These early designs had generally unpredictable results, leading to the belief that applied orthokeratology was more art or luck than science. Many groups and individuals claim to have been the first to develop modern orthokeratology solutions. However, Dr Richard Wlodyga, Dr Philip B. Hanisch and Nick Stoyan, in particular, are generally credited with developing the first reverse zone lens design in the 1980s.
However, it was not until computerized corneal topography became available during the 1990s that it became possible to apply the theory to create designs with repeatable results through being able to accurately map the surface curvature of the cornea using a non-invasive, painless imaging procedure. Additionally, the development of new base materials for rigid gas permeable lenses which provided much higher levels of oxygen permeability opened up the possibility of orthokeratology becoming an overnight procedure rather than being used for daytime wear alone. Finally, the introduction of computer-controlled precision lathes meant that lens designs could be manufactured to sub-micrometre levels of accuracy thereby offering the prospect of high volume production becoming commercially viable.
Research into slowing of myopia
In 2006 and 2007, papers presented at the British Contact Lens Association and the Global Orthokeratology Symposium indicated the possibility of orthokeratology slowing or stopping the myopic progression. This was found to be effective in children in Hong Kong and is the subject of a wider study to verify this data. More recently, the first year results from the SMART Study (Stabilizing Myopia by Accelerated Reshaping Technique) – a five-year longitudinal study currently underway in the Chicago area – show a statistically significant difference for children in the treatment group wearing orthokeratology lenses who exhibited no overall prescription change against children in the control group wearing conventional soft contact lenses for whom there was a mean increase in myopia of 0.40 diopters.
In Australia, the Research in Orthokeratology Group at the University of NSW conducts ongoing research into various aspects of orthokeratology including myopia control.
Tissue growth and propagation studies indicate that epithelial cells adjust growth in response to the presence of a foreign material. CRT lens proximity to the cells, therefore, is thought to stimulate cell growth where less proximity coincides with added growth and more proximity coincides with growth repression thereby creating a ‘proximal pressure’ on the epithelial cells.
Costs vary depending on the process and optometrist but can amount to anywhere from R10 000 upwards which includes consultations and lenses.
“Discovery Medical Aid picked up almost 85% of the entire bill, and I only had to pay in R2000!”
The Ortho-k lenses can last up to three years if they are looked after, which means you can get a spare pair every year if you want!
For more information, or to book an Ortho-K appointment, please contact Chantelle Brits at Eyetek on 011 469 5600.