The Effect of Orthokeratology on Myopia Progression

Myopia is the most common refractive eye condition in the world. Better known as nearsightedness, patients who experience this can see objects close to them with clarity and precision, but those that are farther away can be blurred and difficult to focus on. If you have myopia, you may need to squint to be able to see objects that are far away.   


Myopia normally occurs for one of two reasons. The focusing power of the cornea or lens inside the eye may be too great or the eyeball may be too long in comparison to its focusing power. In either case, myopia causes the light that passes through the eye to be refracted in front of an area of the eye called the retina, rather than directly onto it. Coming up short of the retina means that the message that is sent through the optic nerve to the brain is muddled, and therefore the image that we see isn’t clear. 


Unfortunately, myopia is usually a progressive condition which means that without treatment, it will likely get worse and your vision will become increasingly more compromised. 


Risk factors for myopia

Myopia can affect a person of any age. However, certain factors can increase your risk of developing the condition. These include:

  • A family history of the condition, since nearsightedness tends to be genetic.
  • Spending a great amount of time on reading and close-up work such as using a tablet or phone. 
  • A lack of time outdoors has been linked to the development of myopia. 


Symptoms of myopia

Aside from blurred distance vision, there are several other symptoms that are indicative of the condition. 

  • Headaches caused by eyestrain
  • The need to squint to be able to focus on faraway objects
  • Difficulty driving at night
  • Rubbing your eyes frequently 
  • Needing to sit closer to the television/screen/board to be able to see clearly

What effect does orthokeratology have on the progression of myopia? 

Orthokeratology – or Ortho-K for short – is a treatment that has been shown to both enable myopic users to enjoy clear vision without the need for prescription lenses during the day, and to slow the progression of myopia. 


Ortho-K uses custom-designed contact lenses that can be worn overnight and that work by reshaping the cornea while you sleep. In doing so, the lenses make the cornea a more regular shape that will enable you to see clearly without conventional glasses or contact lenses. The ortho-k lenses can be removed the next morning, and the cornea will retain its new shape for a number of hours, meaning that you can enjoy up to a full day without any other means of visual aid. The effects are only temporary, meaning that most people need to wear their ortho-k lenses every night to maintain the effects of the treatment, and their eyesight will return to normal if they choose to discontinue wearing the lenses. 


Studies have found that orthokeratology can be effective in controlling myopia, particularly amongst children. This could potentially prevent them from experiencing complications as a result of high myopia in later life. These complications include macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, and even retinal detachment. In fact, studies show that when used for partial or full correction of myopia, progression slowed by as much as 36-56% compared to their glasses or contact-lens wearing peers. 


If you would like more information about myopia or the effect of orthokeratology on myopia progression, please contact Factoria Eye Clinic where our team will be happy to help. 

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