Sunday, December 20, 2009

Improving Nearsightedness with Orthokeratology

There was an article in the LA Times recently showing a large increase in nearsightedness or myopia. While the cause of this is controversial, there are a lot of researchers that believe that this is due to how much time our society currently spends doing close work...especially related to the computer. So what can we do about it? Certainly glasses and contact lenses can help. Lasik surgery can correct nearsightedness as well. There is an additional procedure that can be used to treat myopia in both children and adults. It is called orthokeratology or "corneal molding". This procedure involves using special rigid contact lenses that are designed to flatten the corneal curvature and thereby reduce or eliminate myopia. These lenses can we worn at night, in a fashion similar to a retainer for the teeth. Overnight the lenses put gentle pressure upon the surface cells of the cornea and flatten the area over the front of the cornea. When the lenses are removed the nearsightedness is dramatically improved. Patients, often after just one or two days, can reverse their myopia. Using this system, patients do not need to use contact lenses or eyeglasses during the day. All they need to do is replace the lenses in the evening and repeat the process.

There is an interesting side effect that is being reported by patients and doctors that use this technique. It is often found that in addition to reversing the myopia it is being reported that there is a tendency for the myopia not to increase. In other words, using this technique not only reverses the myopia while the lenses are being used, but the tendency for the myopia to increase...especially in children.... is often controlled. There is speculation about why this occurs but it has definitely been reported.

It is also important to know that this procedure only works if the lenses are worn regularly. If a patient decides to discontinue the procedure the eyes will go back to their original myopia. The procedure is especially useful for athletes that are involved in contact sports or water sports. They can perform to their maximul level without the worry of losing a contact lens or the difficlty of attempting to wear eyeglasses while they peform their activity.

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