PLANO, Texas – Kaleigh Dooney is an active 10-year-old who loves swimming and gymnastics. But she's also near-sighted.
"I started noticing because when I looked at the clock, it was getting blurrier and blurrier each day" Kaleigh said.
She didn't want glasses or contact lenses to slow her down during the day. So she's trying something new. She wears special corrective lenses at night. When most people are taking their lenses out, Kaleigh is putting hers in.
"So once I got my contacts, it was so clear, I could read it if I was a mile away" Kaleigh explained.
It's called Ortho-Keratology or Ortho-K. They are customized contact lenses that gently flatten the cornea to correct Kaleigh's myopia or nearsightedness, while she sleeps.
"They put the lenses on and trap a layer of tear under the lenses, using the pressure of the tear to change the shape of the eye, flattening the cornea and after you take the lens out in the morning, you're able to see clear, 20/20," explained Optometrist Dr. Albert Pang.
There's no surgery, no glasses or daytime contacts. The process is reversible and it may slow down the progression of myopia. The only set back is that it does cost three-times as much as regular contacts and some refractive eye surgeons do not recommend or perform Ortho-K.
"Infection is the number one problem that we worry about with any kind of contact lens, particularly at night. In fact, as an Ophthalmologist, I discourage all patients from wearing contact lenses at night," explained Dain Brooks, MD.
So far Kaleigh hasn't had any problems. Her grades are straight A's and she's seeing better than ever.
Kaleigh's mother Staci Dooney said, "She was able to skip the glasses phase completely. She just went straight from having the board blurry in school to being able to see clearly" and all she has to do is sleep to see the benefits.
Myopia, or nearsightedness, has been increasing dramatically over the past 40 years because of our interior screen lifestyle. Experts say it is safe for patients to undergo Lasik surgery after Ortho-K once their eyes are fully developed. Doctor Pang says 80-percent of his patients who choose Ortho-K are seven to 17 years old.
Ortho-Keratology or Ortho-K is a non-invasive, non-surgical procedure that allows patients to have improved vision overnight. These specially constructed lenses work by gently reshaping the corneal surface of the eye while sleeping and when you awake, you will have clear, sharp, natural vision for your waking hours. These lenses are proven to be effective in treating farsightedness, near-sightedness (Myopia), and astigmatism. According to Doctor Albert Pang of Trinity Eye Care, Ortho-K can slow down the progression of Myopia by 40 to 50-percent. Dr. Pang says, "Ortho-K are suitable for both adults and children, especially children since they cannot undergo any surgery, it is the only way to give active young patients good vision without using any glasses or contact during daytime."
MYOPIA: Myopia is the most common refractive error of the eye affecting nearly 30-percent of the U.S. population. Myopia, or nearsightedness is typically referred to difficulty seeing distant objects, such as road signs, but being able to see close up objects clearly, such as computer screens and books. Myopia occurs when the eyeball is too long which causes light rays to focus at the point of the retina instead of evenly on the surface of the retina. Myopia typically begins during childhood and can also be genetic. Squinting, eye strain, and headaches are both signs and symptoms of Myopia.
RESULTS OF ORTHO-K: Short term, your sight should improve significantly for a day or two after a night with Ortho-K lenses. You should not have to wear glasses or contact lenses for up to three days. Long term, optometrists hope for an outcome of 20/20 vision with Ortho-Keratology but 20/40 vision is an acceptable outcome for these lenses. Some patients may have excellent vision after a few days of wearing the Ortho-K lenses while it may take two weeks or more for others. Results vary with time and the amount of nearsightedness you are suffering from. For best results you should wear the Ortho-K lenses every night. Until your eyes are fully corrected, you might notice blurred vision, glare and halos around lights. In some cases, you may need to wear a lower prescription pair of glasses.