There are millions of people in America who require glasses or contact lenses in order to see clearly, including children. Although laser eye surgery is one way to treat most of these people, it isn’t always the most preferable way. It’s understand that you may be a little apprehensive about a surgery that involves prodding, jabbing and cutting out an organ of your own body. So, even though you may qualify for laser eye surgery, you mightn’t even want to go through. Or perhaps, you didn’t qualify in the first place, and now you’re thinking, are there any alternatives to laser eye surgery?
And in fact, there are. I have mentioned 2 alternatives to laser eye surgery already, but in this post I’ll just focus on orthokeratology lenses (aka Ortho-K). The other one is implantable contact lenses, which is still a form of eye surgery, but it there’s no cutting involved and it’s also reversible, unlike the other kinds of laser eye surgery.
To put it simply, Ortho-K lenses are very similar to regular contact lenses, except they’re smaller than the soft types and more oxygen permissible than the hard types. Also, Ortho-K lenses are one of the few types of contact lenses that you can wear overnight, and in fact, the whole purpose of Ortho-K lenses is that you should wear them overnight. This is because throughout your sleep, the Ortho-K lenses itself will reshape your cornea in the same way that laser eye surgery does, without actually removing any corneal material.
Orthokeratology lenses have been around since the 1980s and it hasn’t been until recently that more and more people are starting to realise that this is a really good alternative to laser eye surgery. It’s not as invasive, there’s virtually no complications involved and you don’t have to pay an eye surgeon tons of money to fix your eyesight.
On the other hand, Ortho-K lenses do not permanently repair your vision and you’ll have to keep using them in order to see clearly. In the short term, it’s cheaper than laser eye surgery, but if you intend to wear it for years to come, then the costs can really add up.
However, orthokeratology lenses are quite useful for children with refractive errors. This is because short sighted children tend to get worse vision as they grow older and their prescription doesn’t stabilise until they’re about in their mid 20s. So Ortho-K lenses can help reduce the progression of short sightedness in children and several studies have shown this to be true.
But the lenses are also appreciated by adults as well, who would not want something sharp perilously close to their eyes. Some say that it is like “magic”, that it is “very powerful” and almost like getting “instant vision”.
Like most procedures that attempt to improve eyesight (except cataract surgery), Ortho-K lenses are not covered by insurance. The lenses themselves cost about $1900 but it should last for quite some time, before you need to replace them.
At least Ortho-K isn’t as expensive as implantable contact lenses (ICL)!