Over 53% of adult Americans between 18 to 34 wear glasses. That number also jumps up to over 77% for people over 55.
Many people aren’t bothered by wearing eyeglasses, but for some, it can be a real inconvenience. This is especially true if they lead an active lifestyle.
Because of that, some turn to contact lenses. These already work wonders to correct your vision while you’re awake, but what if we told you there was one that worked while you sleep and let you wake up with perfect vision?
There is such a thing, through something called orthokeratology.
Are you curious about these amazing contacts? Then read on to find out what orthokeratology is and 9 surprising benefits of it.
What Is Orthokeratology?
Orthokeratology is a non-surgical procedure, which is great for people who want to correct their vision without going under the knife. You wear specially-designed contact lenses to sleep, and when you wake up, you’ll have perfect vision for the day.
How does it work?
Well, when you have vision impairment, this is usually due to an irregularly-shaped cornea. When light travels through it, it can be correctly focused on the back of your eye (on the retina). This is what causes you to have blurry vision.
Orthokeratology contact lenses are rigid gas permeable ones, otherwise known as hard contacts. When you wear the lenses to bed, they mold your cornea back into a normal shape. So in the morning, when you wake up, light can focus correctly on your retina; this gives you perfect vision.
During the day, you’ll cornea will slowly return to its irregular shape, which means you need to wear your ortho-k contacts every night to get the same benefits upon waking.
Now that you know how orthokeratology works, let’s move onto the wonderful benefits you can reap from these special contact lenses.
1. It Can Be Used for a Number of Refractive Errors
With regular contact lenses, there may be certain restrictions preventing you from wearing them. For instance, your astigmatism may be too high, so certain lenses are out of the question for you.
With ortho-k contacts, this won’t be an issue. It can correct nearsightedness, astigmatism, and farsightedness. It can even be used for presbyopia (the condition older people get that warrants the need for reading glasses).
Older orthokeratology contacts had a limited range of prescriptions they could work effectively on, but technology’s made leaps and bounds since then. Today, newer designs can correct heavy prescriptions. However, you’ll definitely need a more skilled ophthalmologist to craft these lenses for you.
2. No Surgery Required
As we mentioned above, orthokeratology is a non-surgical procedure. With every surgery, there are major health risks, even if it’s a minor procedure. Because of that, you may want to avoid going under the knife.
LASIK surgery is effective for vision correction, but it still requires you to go “under the knife” (in this case, under the laser). For those who feel uncomfortable with the thought of operating on their eyes but still desire to have perfect vision, ortho-k lenses offer a great alternative.
3. It’s Cheaper Than LASIK
An important thing you should know about ortho-k contacts is they’re not cheap. While regular contact lenses cost just a few hundred dollars, ortho-k lenses cost anywhere between $1,000 to $4,000, with most doctors charging under $2,000. Do keep in mind these numbers include consultations with your eye doctor, such as the exam, fitting, and follow-up care.
It’s true that orthokeratology is a bit pricey, but LASIK eye surgery will cost you even more. This procedure averages out to $1,000 to $2,500 per eye.
Do note that for both eye procedures, you’ll probably be charged more if your prescription is higher.
4. You Still Have the Choice of LASIK
One of the best things about orthokeratology is it’s a reversible process. If you’re scared of committing to LASIK surgery, you can always try ortho-k contacts first and see how they work out for you.
Should you decide they’re not the best option for you, you can also stop usage for a few months so your corneas can completely return to normal. At this point, you can then move forward with LASIK.
So for those of you who are uncertain which one you want to choose, it’s possible to try both. This enables you to explore your options and not feel restricted.
5. Lead an Active Lifestyle With Convenience
For those who are lucky enough, you can take off your glasses, play sports and go to the gym without having to put in contacts. But for those of you who have stronger prescriptions, you’ll understand what a pain it is to be active.
With regular contacts, you have two options. The first is to wear contacts all day. This may be more convenient for your workouts since you can hop straight into them, but you run the risk of your eyes being tired and dried out by the end of the day.
The second option is to put in contacts before you work out, then take them out afterward. This can be inconvenient since you have to tote around your eye care supplies, plus it’ll take up your precious free time.
You have to wash your hands, rinse the contacts, put them in, then work out. Afterward, you have to wash your hands again, take the lenses out, disinfect the lenses, put them in the case, then fill it up with solution.
Ortho-k contacts get rid of all those inconveniences. You’ll still have to go through the disinfection stages, but during your waking hours, you can enjoy perfect vision without having to lift a finger.a
6. It Can Slow the Progression of Refractive Errors
As time goes on, you may notice your prescription getting worse and worse. If you’re concerned about your visual acuity, ortho-k contacts can help.
Remember how we said the lenses help reshape your corneas while you sleep? This wards off any rapid irregular growth, which can help to slow the deterioration of your eyesight.
While orthokeratology lenses won’t prevent your eyesight from getting worse, it can certainly slow down the damage significantly.
7. People of All Ages Can Use Ortho-K Lenses
You may think such a special contact lens is only available for adults, but in fact, they’re great for children as well. They’re especially effective for kids who are going through puberty. While they’re going through growth spurts, this is when nearsightedness rapidly comes on as well.
With ortho-k lenses suppressing myopia (nearsightedness), your kids can get through puberty and come out on the other side with decent eyesight. Whereas if they didn’t wear these lenses, they may start out their early adulthood with bad visual acuity.
8. Your Children Can Grow up More Confident
Between the ages of 6 to 17, anywhere between 15% to over 50% of kids need to wear glasses or contact lenses. While glasses can sometimes be “cool,” most of the time, children feel self-conscious about them. This is especially true in the pre-teen and teenage years, when appearances matter significantly to peers.
Not that it happens to every child, but if they need to wear eyeglasses, this can cause them to have lower confidence in their everyday appearance. With ortho-k contacts, they can wake up each day with better vision and go to school without wearing those glasses they hate.
Considering these are some formative years, it’s important you do everything in your power to ensure your children grow up healthy and confident. Ortho-k contacts can be just what it takes for that to happen.
9. They Can Teach Kids Responsibility
You might be skeptical of whether or not children can take care of contact lenses. But shockingly, 51% of optometrists feel that kids between 10 and 12 can handle this responsibility, and even 11.9% feel contacts are appropriate for kids under 8.
Ortho-k contacts can be a great way to introduce your children to the responsibilities of contact lenses. You have to clean and store them properly, but don’t really have to worry about them while you sleep.
Whereas with normal contacts, you have to do all that, plus be conscious of how you go about your daily life. You can’t rub your eyes, might have to put in eye drops, and can’t play certain sports. Ortho-k lenses can help prepare your kids for regular contact lenses in the future.
Ask if Orthokeratology Is Right for You or Your Loved Ones
No doubt that after you’ve seen all the benefits of orthokeratology, you’re probably highly interested in these contacts for either yourself or your family.
However, they’re not always great for everyone. Contact lenses are considered medical devices, plus they go in your eyes, which means you have to be vigilant about cleaning them. Otherwise, you risk infection and even scratches in your eyes.
But this doesn’t mean that young children can’t use ortho-k contacts. In fact, it can be a great way for them to learn responsibility.
So think about discussing orthokeratology with your eye doctor and see if it’s right for you and your family.
For more interesting articles, please check out our health blog section.