LASIK surgery has been a popular vision correction option for millions of americans over the past (nearly) two decades. While we at Kirkwood Eye Associates offer LASIK to our patients, some come in seeking a LASIK alternative. They want the independence from glasses and contact lenses during the day, but want to avoid the cost and apprehension of LASIK eye surgery.
One popular LASIK alternative is orthokeratology. Orthokeratology (also called Ortho-K) involves the use of overnight devices to reversibly reshape the cornea in a manner similar to LASIK. As a certified CRT (corneal refractive therapy) doctor I have worked with dozens of patients wanting an alternative to LASIK surgery. CRT (by Paragon Vision Sciences) is the only FDA approved orthokeratology system in the United States today. It utilizes a custom overnight gas permeable contact lens device to shape the cornea in order to alleviate near sightedness (myopia).
When a patient is fit with their CRT device, they wear it while they sleep and remove the lenses in the morning, similar to a retainer you wear for your teeth. Over the first two to four weeks, your day time vision will improve, eliminating the need for daytime glasses and contacts. The device then must be used every few nights to maintain the reshaping effect. Depending on the severity of nearsightedness before treatment, the device has to be worn between three and seven nights per week after the first month.
We recommend this treatment for anyone with mild to moderate nearsightedness (up to -5.00) and mild astigmatism (up to -1.00). It works especially well for people who suffer from dryness in their daily soft contact lenses or those who work in environments where their contact lenses become easily contaminated. We have also had great success with individuals who’ve had LASIK in the past but are showing some signs of regression and are unable to undergo LASIK re-treatment.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of orthokeratology with the CRT system is that it’s the ONLY proven method of slowing or stopping the progression of myopia (near-sightedness). At Kirkwood Eye Associates, we recommend CRT to any child who exhibits mild myopia. Even those as young as ten years old. Stopping myopia progression will decrease the expense of glasses and contacts down the road, and people with higher amounts of near sightedness have a higher risk of developing glaucoma, retinal detachments and tend to develop cataracts at a younger age.
CRT is fully reversible. Simply stop wearing the devices and your cornea’s will return to your pre-treatment baseline within four to six weeks. Many of our patients will try orthokeratology for a year or two before getting LASIK to be sure they're happy with the vision. CRT is also much more cost effective than LASIK surgery, costing typically around 70% less.
Call today at Kirkwood Eye Associates for a FREE CRT consultation to see if it’s right for you.
Andrew Biondo, O.D., is the Primary Medical Director at Kirkwood Eye Associates in Kirkwood, MO. Serving the greater St. Louis area, Dr. Biondo has 8 years of experience as an eye care provider, health educator & consultant to the specialty contact lens industry. His special interests include contact lenses, dry eye disease, glaucoma, macular degeneration, laser eye surgery & preventive vision care.