Today’s guest blogger is Dr. Stuart Rothman.  Dr. Rothman practices in Livingston, N.J.  He has been a member of the clinical faculty at SUNY State College of Optometry for 30 years.

Orthokeratolgy (also known as ortho k, corneal refractive therapy, corneal reshaping, and accelerated orthokeratology),  is a nonsurgical procedure using specially designed rigid contact lenses to gently reshape the curvature of the eye to improve vision.  Patients wear the lenses while they sleep and remove them in the morning.  Ortho K has long shown promise for allowing myopic (nearsighted) patients to function without contact lenses or spectacles during the day.

Patients active in sports such as swimming, skiing, and contact sports such as football, basketball and hockey all find that being able to perform these sports while seeing well has distinct advantages.  Ortho K doesn’t carry the risks of refractive surgery, can be adjusted if and when the nearsightedness changes, can be stopped or reversed if the patient is not happy with the results, and can be performed on pediatric patients as well as patient considered unsuitable for refractive surgery.  This group includes patients with dry eye or those whose prescription has been changing.

In fact it is this latter group of patient’s who present the greatest promise for orthokeratology.  It seems that patients fit with orthokeratology lenses show myopia progression that is much less than patients fit with either spectacle lenses or soft contact lenses.  Recent research has attributed this to the effect that the lenses have on peripheral retinal focus.  By focusing the peripheral image more than the central image, the lenses seem to be effective on retinal shapes that are most susceptible to continued myopic change.

It is the myopia control potential that drives new patients into offices that do orthokeratology.  Nearsighted children as young as 7 or 8 can be fit, as long as they will allow someone to put the lenses in their eyes.  Since the lenses are worn at night only, parents can be taught insertion and removal techniques as well as the regimen required to care for the lenses.  Parent don’t have to worry about their children wearing lenses on their own and not being able to remove the lenses if a problem develops.

Currently, most lens designs are approved for myopia up to 5 diopters.  The development of new designs may expand the potential for orthokeratology to an even greater population.

Read more from Dr. Rothman about ortho k here.

Watch this news report about  corneal reshaping.