Correcting myopia (shortsightedness) without surgery has been a dream for many years.
In 1962 George Jesson, an American optometrist, developed a technique to correct this condition by fitting a series of rigid contact lenses to reshape the cornea (the clear membrane in front of the pupil). Today this procedure is known as Orthokeratology. The problem was that the lenses, which needed to be altered numerous times over a period of approximately one year, were often uncomfortable to wear and only achieved limited correction, which meant that the technique lost popularity.
Advanced materials which now enable overnight wear of a rigid contact lens (as pictured on the right) has opened new possibilities. Another important factor is the development of sophisticated corneal mapping instruments which accurately establish the corneal shape and high precision computer-controlled lathes which are used to generate complex lens designs. As a result new lens designs have been developed to reshape the cornea, significantly increasing the speed and effectiveness of myopia correction. With these designs it is not uncommon to correct approximately 70% of shortsightedness after a single night’s wear, with total correction usually achievable a few weeks.
Suitable patients simply wear the retainer lenses while sleeping at night and are independent of spectacles or contact lenses during waking hours.
While this technique is currently only effective for low to moderate degrees of myopia (up to 4 dioptres), the results to date have been spectacular. However, suitability can only be established after a comprehensive examination by an optometrist trained in this technique, accurate profiling of the cornea and establishing the response to specially designed Orthokeratology lenses.
Orthokeratology has been shown to be safe and effective provided that the lenses are prescribed and fitted by a suitably qualified optometrist. It is also essential that patients adhere to the wearing schedule guidelines and the contact lens care and maintenance procedures.