What is Ortho-K?
Orthokeratology is the use of contact lenses to mould the shape of the cornea to reduce or correct myopic (short sighted) errors of the eye.
In some ways it is similar to the use of dental braces by an orthodontist to straighten crooked teeth. The main difference is that if a tooth position is corrected for some months it will usually stay in the new position. The cornea is highly elastic however, and always returns to its original shape. For this reason retainer lenses are worn several nights per week even after the ideal corneal shape has been achieved.
Why Have Ortho-K Done?
The main purpose of Ortho-K is to be free of both contact lenses and spectacles for all waking hours.
Whilst this is ideal for sportsmen, swimmers or those who work in dusty or dirty environments, the freedom from any optical correction appeals to other myopic spectacle and contact lens wearers. School age children benefit greatly for example.
Night Therapy – The Most Common Application
For those it is possible to go straight to night therapy. This gives a fast and easy way of arriving at myopia correction.
Does Ortho-K Have Any Advantages Over Excimer Laser Surgery?
Yes. Ortho-K costs less and is a reversible procedure. As well it is more appropriate for people who are becoming more short sighted.
Lenses are inserted before going to sleep and removed in the morning. As the therapy progresses and the cornea is moulded, the lenses give good unaided vision for longer periods of time. Gradually the lens wearing time may be decreased to a level which gives the desired reduction in myopia.
Is Everyone Suitable for Ortho-K?
No. Only lower levels of shortsightedness can be corrected with Ortho-K (up to about 4.0 dioptres).
Since 2009 it has been possible to also correct up to -2.50 astigmatism. Individual corneal shape and rigidity will determine the results achieved. While the success rate is very high, success cannot be guaranteed.
Your optometrist will examine your eyes and then discuss your personal suitability for this treatment.
Lenses lost during the fitting period are charged at a reduced cost.
Lenses used in the corneal reshaping therapy period must be returned when the change to the new fitting lenses is made.
In the event of a lost lens the cornea will tend to return to its original shape. In this situation we may be able to loan a lens. Once successful long term retainer wear is reached you are strongly advised to obtain a spare pair of retainer lenses.
Fees & Charges
The preliminary examination charge is that set by Medicare. You will be able to claim some of this back. There is also a $50 charge for corneal topography, a technology that allows us to map the shape of the cornea. This is very important because, in OrthoK, we change the shape of the cornea.
The diagnostic fitting and overnight wear of trial lenses for myopic OrthoK is $350. The subsequent fee if the fitting proceeds is $1,550. This is paid as $800 when your initial lenses are collected and $350 for each of the next three visits. For astigmatic OrthoK, (where the lenses are more specialised and the aftercare is more demanding) the total charges are $2,200. This would be discussed at the consultation.
In the event of unsuccessful therapy or if you decide to withdraw from treatment within the first three months, the subsequent monthly payments are not made and the lenses will need to be returned. There will be a refund of 50% of the lens cost.
As with any contact lens wear it is vital to ensure the health and integrity of the cornea at all stages. Over the first year many visits are involved. After the initial therapy an examination twice a year is considered essential to ensure ongoing safety of the eyes and good vision. These visits will be charged at the scheduled Medicare rate.