Myopia is the most common refractive eye condition in the world. You are more likely to hear of it referred to as near-sightedness since the people who experience it can see objects close to their faces clearly, but those that appear further away are out of focus. Being unable to see clearly can have a profound impact on our day to day life. As much as 80% of our day is interpreted visually and when this is compromised, we may find even the simplest tasks too difficult to fulfill. Fortunately, there are a number of treatment options for myopia, including the newest solution that is taking the optical world by storm – Ortho K.
Myopia occurs for one of two reasons. The patient either has a cornea that isn’t perfectly rounded on all sides and is steeper on one side than is ideal or because their eyeball has grown a little too long. Both of these mean that when light enters the eye, instead of being refracted fully onto the retina, it falls short instead. The retina is a section of light-sensitive cells at the very back of the eye. The purpose of the retina is to receive the light that the lens has focused, convert it into neural signals and send these to the brain which makes sense of them and tells us what we can see. However, if not all of the light hits the retina, some of the messages are lost and the thing that is looking at appears blurred.
The number of people suffering from myopia has grown significantly in the last decade, with a particularly large increase amongst children. Although it isn’t known exactly why a dramatic increase in screen time and less time spent outdoors have been cited as contributing factors. Since it is progressive, unless it is controlled and managed, your vision could deteriorate further.
Whilst myopia isn’t dangerous, it can lead to the development of other ocular conditions in the future. Glaucoma, cataracts, retinal detachment and more have been shown to be more likely in people who have previously been found to be suffering from myopia.
The goal of treatment for myopia is to enable the patient to enjoy a vision that is as clear as possible. This is done by utilizing different techniques that help to focus light directly onto the retina rather than in front of it, as is the case in patients that suffer from nearsightedness.
The most well-known solution for myopia is prescription lenses. These can be placed into glasses frames or combined into contact lenses, giving patients the choice of either. However, both come with limitations that many wearers find frustrating. For example, glasses cannot be worn during some sports, while contacts are not suited to some patients with abnormally shaped corneas or who suffer allergies.
The next best-known treatment is laser vision correction surgery. This provides a permanent change to the shape of your cornea so that your refractive eye error is corrected, and you can see clearly without or with far less reliance on prescription eyewear. Nevertheless, many patients dislike the risks or costs associated with laser vision correction, and many people aren’t suitable candidates for the procedure.
Ortho-K, or orthokeratology to give it its full name, is the latest method of treating myopia and it is transforming the lives of countless patients. This revolutionary technique uses bespoke contact lenses to reshape the cornea while you sleep. It does this by applying gentle pressure in the exact areas needed to correct your refractive error. Although contact lenses are not usually recommended to be worn overnight, Ortho-K lenses are created especially from a gas-permeable material that makes them safe and comfortable to keep in whilst you sleep. When you remove your lenses the next morning, you should experience an improvement in your vision that enables you to see clearly for the duration of the day without needing to wear glasses or contact lenses. However, consistent use of the lenses is needed to obtain the optimal result and to maintain it for an entire day or longer.
There are numerous advantages to choosing Ortho-K. Not only is the treatment non-invasive, painless and straightforward, but the results are temporary meaning that if you want to stop using the lenses, your vision will return to normal and you can pursue other solutions. Ortho-K is also suitable for virtually any patient including those for whom contact lenses or laser vision correction isn’t normally a viable option. It is actually recommended for children as it has been shown to be able to slow and even halt the progression of myopia.
If you have been diagnosed with myopia and you would like to know more about what your treatment options are, we would be happy to help. Contact University Optometric Center in Irvine, CA today to get started on the path to clearer and more convenient vision (949) 216-8900.