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Frequently Asked Questions On Ortho-K Answered By Our Optometrists in Fairfax

Woman applying her Ortho-K contact lenses for the first time.

Q: What is it Orthokeratology?

A: Orthokeratology, nicknamed Ortho-K, is a non-surgical method using specially designed gas permeable contact lenses to reshape the cornea and is typically used to slow the progression of myopia (nearsightedness).  It is also referred to as Corneal Reshaping (CR).  It is a great alternative to LASIK for patients who are not ready for surgery or prepared to take the risk.

Q: Am I a good candidate for Ortho-K?

A: Children with progressive myopia are often the best candidates for this procedure but many adolescents and adults have had great success as well.  Additionally, new designs are available for hyperopia (farsightedness) and presbyopia (blurred near vision).  Typically, a lower current prescription is more likely to get a good result, however substantial improvement and correction can be obtained even in higher prescriptions.

Q: What reason would I have to choose this procedure?

A: In addition to the fact that studies have revealed that ortho-k can slow the progression of myopia, the freedom to go through your day without glasses or contact lenses can be especially valuable to someone playing sports or working in an environment where glasses or contact lenses could be a problem.

There are several new studies that indicate a reduction of nearsightedness is possible.

Q: If wearing contact lenses is difficult for you because of dry eyes or allergies, but you do not want to wear glasses or undergo Lasik surgery, this is a great option for you?

A: If you are not a good candidate for LASIK or are not prepared to take the risk of surgery, this is a great alternative.

This is a reversible procedure.  If you discontinue the use of the nightly contacts, your eyes will gradually loose the correction.

Q: What is the procedure like?

A: The doctor will need to determine if your eyes are healthy enough for contact lenses and a series of tests to map and measure your eyes will be done.  Once the doctor has determined that you are a good candidate for ortho-k, he will order a customized set of gas permeable contact lenses for you which you will wear only at night.

Think of these contact lenses like a retainer but for your eyes, not your teeth!  As the procedure progresses, the “retainer” contacts may have to change.  

Throughout the whole process, the doctor will be carefully monitoring your corneal health and assessing your progress.  It is at these visits that a change in the contacts may occur.

When you come in for the first set of these lenses, you will be instructed on how to insert, remove, handle and care for them.  It is important to properly clean and store these lenses for good eye heath.

As these contact lenses reshape your cornea, there will be a noticeable change in your vision but the process takes time.  Because of this, you will still need vision correction during the day for a short time - how long will depend on your starting prescription.

You will be scheduled for a series of visits with the doctor.  Initially, you will need to return the following day after wearing the contact lenses for the first night.  The next visit will be after wearing the contact lenses for a week, followed by three weeks, then one month, and then three months - generally.  Some patients may be seen more or less frequently due to their specific needs and prescription.

Q: Are there Risks with Ortho-K?

A: The risks with ortho-k are similar to extended wear contact lenses.  A small risk of infection exists.  The contacts should never be worn if your eyes are red, irritated or painful.  Should any of these occur, you should discontinue wear of the contacts and call us immediately so that you may be seen and evaluated

Q: How much does Ortho-K cost?

A: Most insurance plans will not cover the cost of ortho-k, however, many plans will have some allowance toward the purchase of contact lenses and some have an allowance toward a contact lens fitting which may be applicable.

Our fee for this procedure remains the same for all patients, regardless of the number of visits needed and it requires a great deal of testing and evaluation as well as the customized contact lenses we order.

The usual and customary fee for ortho-k is $2100.  We understand that this is more than a typical contact lens fitting and contacts, but it is far from a typical fit and if you compare it to the costs of LASIK and consider the benefits from this procedure, you will most likely agree that it is well worth it.

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