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The ideal alternative to refractive surgery and for those who prefer not to wear contact lenses or corrective eyewear during the day. 


Is 2018 the year you gain freedom from visual correction during the day? If so, orthokeratology (OrthoK) is your answer. OrthoK is a non-surgical form of vision correction and an ideal alternative to refractive surgery and for those who prefer not to wear contact lenses or corrective eyewear during the day.


OrthoK is the design and fitting of custom manufactured contact lenses you wear while you sleep and remove when you wake up. During the night the lenses gently reshape the cornea, the translucent front window of the eye, in a controlled fashion, to improve vision and allow you to see clearly without the aid of conventional contact lenses or corrective eyewear when the lenses are removed. By reshaping the cornea, OrthoK lenses re-focus the light rays, making them focus properly on the retina, the film at the back of the eye, just as standard contact lenses and corrective eyewear do. When you wake, you simply remove the contact lenses, and the reshaped cornea provides you sharp vision for the whole day (often for two days), without having to rely on spectacles or contact lenses. OrthoK is a non-invasive procedure and completely reversible. If the OrthoK lenses are not worn, the elastic cornea simply reverts back to its original shape.


The word ‘orthokeratology’ comes from the Latin ortho meaning straight or correct, and keratology meaning the science of altering the shape of the cornea. Just as orthodontics is Latin for straightening teeth, orthokeratology is Latin for correcting the shape of the cornea.


OrthoK has been receiving worldwide acknowledgement due to a growing body of evidence proving that OrthoK can slow down the progression of short-sightedness (myopia) in children during the crucial growing years. Slowing myopia progression is important as the lower the myopia, the less risk of future potentially blinding ocular health complications such as retinal detachment and glaucoma. We are now well aware that myopia is more than just a refractive error and it is no longer acceptable to just keep updating your child’s spectacles at each appointment as their myopia increases. We can now easily slow down your child’s myopia progression with OrthoK. OrthoK is also suitable for long-sightedness (hyperopia), astigmatism (two different focal points) and presbyopia (age-related near sight loss).


Mortimer Hirst was one of the earliest adopters of OrthoK and specialises in OrthoK and complex OrthoK fittings.


Mortimer Hirst receives a lot of referrals for OrthoK and troubleshooting difficult OrthoK cases. Mortimer Hirst optometrists have been involved and are still involved in numerous OrthoK studies and written scientific papers on OrthoK. Mortimer Hirst utilises the very latest state of the art hardware and advanced technology software to custom design and manufacture OrthoK lenses.


We use corneal mapping (topography) to develop a three-dimensional map of the surface curvature of the cornea. The procedure is carried out in seconds and is completely painless. The optometrist/contact lens specialist then utilises the three-dimensional corneal map to help perfect a bespoke OrthoK contact lens to enhance vision and maintain long term safety and corneal integrity. OrthoK contact lenses are FDA approved for overnight wear.


OrthoK is perfect for active people and people involved in sports such as swimming, surfing, skiing, water polo, rowing, cycling, dancing, tramping, yoga and gyming, who have low to moderate myopia. OrthoK allows them new freedom to be active without having to wear contact lenses or corrective eyewear. OrthoK is also ideal for many different occupations and or working environments where contact lenses and corrective eyewear may not be suitable, such as physical, dusty or weather dependent environments, and when daily wear contact lenses become intolerable due to dry eye. OrthoK is also great for young children as it gives parents piece of mind that their child won’t loose or break their eyewear at school.


We advise potential OrthoK wearers to present for an OrthoK assessment as early as possible as the earlier OrthoK can commence the easier and more beneficial it is. You should especially bring your children in if they are at risk of myopia (for example those with parents that are myopic or are an indoor type of child and an avid reader/digital device user) so we can identify any myopic onset, or if your child’s myopia is already progressing.


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Words: Emilie Langley, optometrist and contact lens specialist at Mortimer Hirst.