Blog Hero

What Is Ortho-K Treatment?

Book Appointment
A woman is holding an Ortho-K Lens with her right thumb and index finger.

Orthokeratology or ortho-k refers to a non-surgical and reversible vision correction procedure that involves wearing a specially designed gas-permeable contact lens only while you sleep. This innovative treatment method helps reshape the cornea temporarily, enabling people with specific vision problems to see without relying on prescription glasses or contact lenses during the day.

During your comprehensive eye exam, you can discuss ortho-k lenses with your optometrist and determine whether they’re a good method of correction for your vision problems.

How Does Ortho-K Work?

Ortho-K lenses are specialized contact lenses that are worn overnight. They work by temporarily reshaping the cornea; that’s the clear, dome-shaped covering over the front part of your eye. Once you wake in the morning, the cornea maintains this corrected shape through the day..

Flattening or reshaping the cornea changes how light enters your eye and focuses on your retina, resulting in clearer vision. It can take up to 2 weeks to maximize the results, but most patients are able to achieve better than 20/40 vision with continuous wear.

Contact Lens Fittings for Ortho-K

During the fitting process, your optometrist will measure your eyes and determine several dimensions that make up your prescription:

  • Sphere: the lens power needed to correct your nearsightedness or farsightedness
  • Cylinder: the presence and amount of astigmatism 
  • Axis: the alignment of astigmatism
  • HVID (horizontal visible iris diameter): the diameter of your cornea
  • Keratometry: the degree of curvature of  your cornea

With these measurements, the doctor will customize the lens shape and power and provide you with a set of lenses to wear overnight.

The process to get ortho-k lenses can take several steps, including:

  • An eye exam to take measurements
  • Lens pick-up and education on insertion and care
  • Morning assessments of fit, function, and results

Ortho-k is not permanent, and you will need to continue to wear the contact lenses regularly to maintain the effect. If you decide that you don’t want to wear the lenses anymore, the cornea will return to its original shape within a few weeks.

A diagram with eyeballs explains how orthokeratology works.

What Does Ortho-K Treat?

Ortho-k can effectively treat a range of vision problems such as myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism. If you are living with some combination of these conditions, ortho-k could be an ideal solution.

Ortho-K for Myopia Correction

If you want to leave glasses behind without resorting to LASIK or PRK surgery, ortho-k can offer another long-term solution. It’s commonly used for myopia by gently flattening the cornea, providing clear distance vision upon awakening.

In severe cases of myopia, you may still need corrective lenses occasionally, but ortho-k can reduce reliance on them.

Ortho-K for Myopia Control in Children & Adolescents

As children’s eyes grow, their vision changes. If they develop myopia, they will experience increasingly blurry distance vision and regular changes in their eyeglass prescription.

Myopia control aims to slow the progression of nearsightedness to limit the strength of the required prescription as your child reaches adulthood. Ortho-k not only helps correct myopia but is also a proven effective method to reduce the progression of myopia. Evidence shows that myopia control with ortho-k is effective for children aged 6 to 16,

Should You Try Ortho-K?

Unlike laser eye surgery, Ortho-K does not remove any tissue from the cornea; instead, it reshapes the cornea gently and reversibly. You may consider ortho-k if you or your child:

  • Want freedom from glasses and contact lenses
  • Live an active lifestyle
  • Have frequent prescription changes

The treatment is safe and has been approved by the FDA, making it an ideal solution for people who are:

  • Not suitable for (or not wanting) LASIK surgery
  • Not fond of soft contact lenses

Ortho-K is very safe. However, like with all contact lenses, there can be an increased risk of developing an eye infection if the lens is not cared for properly. Always remember to:

  • Wash your hands before handling your lenses
  • Handle lenses with care
  • Use the proper solution recommended by your optometrist
  • Keep the tip of the solution bottle sterile
  • Clean lenses daily after removal

A contact lens fitting appointment for your specialized lenses will teach you how to protect both your lenses and your eyes from possible problems at home.

Explore Ortho-K Lenses for Myopia & Myopia Control

Ortho-K lenses are an innovative, noninvasive, and reversible way to correct vision problems. They can help patients of all ages enjoy sharp vision without glasses or contacts.If you are interested in Ortho-K and would like to find out more, it all starts with an eye exam. Visit Tree City Eyecare for a comprehensive assessment, explore myopia correction solutions, and get professional recommendations. Our expert team can guide and assist you with all of your eye care needs.

Written by Dr. Jaimen Dixon O.D.

Dr. Dixon grew up in Boise, Idaho and couldn’t be happier serving the community where he was raised. After graduating Magna Cum Laude from Brigham Young University-Idaho, Dr. Dixon received his Doctorate of Optometry from the Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, Tennessee. He also graduated Magna Cum Laude from SCO and was honored to receive his graduating class’s Outstanding Clinician Award. Dr. Dixon is a member of Idaho Optometric Physicians, the American Optometric Association, the Scleral Lens Society, and the American Academy of Orthokeratology & Myopia Control.

Dr. Dixon enjoys providing full-scope eye care to all ages, from kids to adults to seniors. He has training in managing ocular diseases, including keratoconus, glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, dry eye disease, and others. He has a passion for myopia control and difficult-to-fit contact lenses, and he is proud to be an expert in specialty contact lens fitting, including scleral contact lenses, orthokeratology, rigid gas permeable, and more. Dr. Dixon especially loves helping those who previously thought they were “not a candidate for contact lenses” discover that with the right contact lens design, just about anyone can gain freedom from glasses. Few things bring him as much satisfaction as seeing a custom-designed lens change a patient’s life.

When not bringing new clarity to his patients, Dr. Dixon loves enjoying the outdoors with his beautiful wife, 3 crazy kids, and naughty golden retriever. He especially enjoys building and using bikes to explore Idaho’s thousands of miles of trails and dirt roads. He and his family also love camping, backpacking, climbing, skiing, and exploring Idaho’s many hidden corners.

More Articles By Dr. Jaimen Dixon O.D.
instagram facebook facebook2 pinterest twitter google-plus google linkedin2 yelp youtube phone location calendar share2 link star-full star star-half chevron-right chevron-left chevron-down chevron-up envelope fax