Did you know that you could correct your eyesight and reduce your dependence on glasses or contact lenses without having to go for eye surgery?
Orthokeratology (Ortho-K), one can wear custom molded breathable contacts while they sleep, and the lenses reshape the front surface of the cornea, allowing someone to see clearly the following day once they remove the lenses when they wake up. Vision can be improved or perfected strikingly fast, with results that are often immediate.
This is ideal for children as it can stop and reverse the progression of nearsightedness (myopia) at an early age and allow kids to live a glasses-free life.
Metro Eyes in Vienna is a huge advocate of the procedure for children and are one of the few places in Northern Virginia where Ortho-K is offered. Both Dr. Joanna Barnett and Dr. Linh Hoang-Braley are big proponents of this and hope more children and their parents learn of what a difference it can make.
“Ortho-K has been around since the 1960s but doctors didn’t really grasp the concept because it was daytime wearing and material that was not very breathable, but in the ’90s they started to realize materials were better and more breathable, and it started to take off,” Hoang-Braley says. “Doctors realized this was a game changer for kids because they could slow down the myopia progression in their eyes.”
The country is currently facing a myopic epidemic with children, with approximately 45 percent of kids facing myopia. Those with parents who have myopia are particularly vulnerable.
“If we can capture kids in their growing years—kids 8-11—and slow down their progression or even halt their progression, we can make a huge difference,” Hoang-Braley says. “We decided to get involved with Orthokeratology because we’ve been seeing a lot of kids in our practice with the problem and we wanted to get on board with this technique so they are not wearing thick glasses when they are 15.”
Metro Eyes is touting this procedure for kids because of how big a problem myopia is on the younger generation and they have seen it make a drastic difference in the lives of its younger patients.
“Because of electronics, I think we are seeing people come in younger and younger and they need glasses sooner and sooner,” Barnett says. “Certain ethnic groups also have more prevalence for nearsightedness and their parents are very concerned.”
Consider a young swimmer who needs to wear contacts when they swim or a soccer player who needs glasses to see on the field. Orthokeratology makes the need for contacts and glasses a thing of the past for these kids, and they can partake in their sport without relying on anything but their 20-20 eyes.
“They need to wear the contacts every night, putting them in before they go to sleep, they take them out when they wake up and they can see all day,” Barnett says. “If they don’t wear them every night, it would regress.”
Ortho-K can be used by adults as well, especially wannabe pilots or those who want to get certain positions in the military, whose eyesight is holding them back.
“It may take a little longer with adults, but it will work,” Hoang-Braley says. “And it’s reversible. People don’t have to worry like going into surgery where it’s permanent.”
Barnett noted that those who are super nearsighted are also at a higher risk for retinal detachments and glaucoma, and this is another way to decrease that.
For those interested, a visit to Metro Eyes and a comprehensive examination is required, and corneal maps of the eyes are done, creating a custom-made lens. The patient sleeps with the lens and comes in for follow-up visits to ensure everything is healthy and going well. The lenses should last about a year.
“It is a commitment and we do ask that the parents are on the same team to go through the process with the kids,” Hoang-Braley said. “We are excited to be on this adventure with the kids and want to benefit from the freedom of not needing glasses.”