I lost my glasses (a lot), never felt confident as a ‘four-eyed’ kid and honestly, it was a lot of responsibility on a 6 year-old to keep track of, especially bouncing back and forth between my parents’ two houses. Not to mention, if they’re lost or broken – it took weeks to replace, leaving me blind.
Now as a parent myself, I recognized the signs early when my daughter’s eyesight didn’t seem to be where it should be. She got her first pair of glasses at age 5, and honestly, it’s hard as a parent to manage glasses with kids.
The glasses walk off (a lot), frames break, she has to take them off for cheer practice and competitions, giving her a disadvantage, and who knows if she really keeps them on all day at school (okay, my daughter is 7 going on 30 so I’m pretty sure, but most kids, you know!).
I’m thrilled to share with you a new solution for helping correct nearsightedness in kids, that you may want to look into more if you, or your kiddo, aren’t interested in wearing glasses daily.
Meet Dr. Destin D. Whipple, an East Valley optometrist with offices in Chandler and Mesa who corrects his own eyesight with this tool and has a passion for helping kids ditch their glasses using this night-time corrective therapy as a replacement for traditional contacts or glasses.
If you’re tired of fighting the glasses game with your kids, or for yourself, keep reading for the basics about this new-to-us alternative to correct nearsightedness!
Orthokeratology–What is It?
Commonly called Ortho-k, it is a non-surgical vision treatment that uses specialty contact lenses to reshape the cornea (front clear layer of the eye) while you sleep. (A little like retainers do for teeth.)
This provides clear vision without daytime contact lenses or glasses. And yes, NO surgery!
Patients just put night lenses in right before bedtime and they are removed upon waking up in the morning, giving clear vision with them off for the day.
What are the benefits of ortho-k for kids?
It allows for clear vision without the use of daytime glasses or contact lenses.
Second, it is the best way with the least side effects to slow the progression of myopia (nearsightedness) commonly seen in children and young adults.
What age limitations are there? There are no age restrictions for ortho-k. Children under the age of 8-10 will need assistance to apply and remove the night lenses.
How long does it take to reach full treatment? The individual must wear the night lenses every night for 5-10 days to achieve full treatment (corneal shape change), depending on the complexity of the case.
What is the similarity to orthodontics (braces)?
Some doctors compare ortho-k to braces. The initial fitting process for ortho-k is similar to getting braces placed on the teeth, except it only takes days to get the full shape change with ortho-k.
Then, the continued wear of the lenses each night is similar to wearing a retainer after the braces are removed in orthodontics. The lenses now serve to maintain the shape change.
However, unlike a retainer for teeth, if as little as one night is missed with the night lenses, there can be enough of a shape change that the vision is likely to be affected the next day.
Is this similar to LASIK?
First, ortho-k is completely reversible, so if for some reason there is a problem with the procedure, lens wear can be stopped and the cornea will go back to its original shape.
However, LASIK and other similar refractive surgery procedures cause a permanent change to the cornea. Therefore, the cornea cannot be changed back to its original shape.
Second, it is not uncommon for vision after LASIK to change.
If vision does change after LASIK, then another surgery is required, if possible, to achieve clear vision again.
With ortho-k any minor changes to the vision can be addressed at the annual exam with adjustments to the new lens parameters.
Third, ortho-k lenses have been approved by the FDA for all ages. LASIK requires 21-25 years of age. Fourth and most obvious, LASIK is surgery on the eye. For people averse to surgery, orthokeratology is a much less invasive option.
If you’re looking to learn more, be sure to tune into our Medical Monday LIVE interview with Dr. Whipple on October 24th on Instagram where we’ll go more in depth.