Invisalens is a top choice for parents because it’s proven effective without compromising safety and convenience. It’s easy to use and backed by sound science and decades of research and innovation. With Invisalens, parents and children are empowered in the fight against myopia so they can dream and pursue their goals with clearer vision.
Ortho K Lenses vs. Prescription Glasses:
Understanding the Pros and Cons
For people with myopia or nearsightedness, two common treatment options are prescription glasses and corrective lenses, particularly via Orthokeratology.
Prescription glasses are glasses with corrective prescription, assigned by your optometrist, built into the lens. They are mostly prescribed to people with refractive errors such as myopia. A pair of prescription glasses is the simplest, most common and safest way for nearsighted people to see clearly and pursue daily activities despite the symptoms of myopia.
On the other hand, Orthokeratology or Ortho-k for short, according to the American Academy of Orthokeratology and Myopia Control (AAOMC), is a “non-surgical procedure using specially designed contact lenses to gently reshape the curvature of the eye,” thereby improving vision for people with myopia.
Before delving deeper into the advantages and disadvantages of Orthokeratology and prescription glasses, it is also important to ask: what is myopia?
Myopia is a type of eye focusing disorder or a refractive error wherein the eye does not bend or refract light properly due to the eyeball being too elongated or the cornea too curved. Its symptoms include eye strain, headaches, squinting and difficulty seeing distant objects. The American Optometric Association (AOA) notes that myopia is usually inherited but its actual development can be triggered by how a person uses his or her eyes. Those who often read in insufficiently lit environments and those who work in front of a computer or spend a lot of time in front of screens are more prone to nearsightedness.
You may be wondering: Which myopia treatment option is best for me? What are the advantages and disadvantages of choosing prescription glasses or orthokeratology?
Here is a detailed guide to help you decide.
- Prescription glasses, especially the polarized type, can, not only improve vision and enhance depth perception and color contrast, but can also help minimize glare and protect the eyes from harmful UV rays. The AOA warns that exposure to excessive amounts of UV radiation can cause photokeratitis or “sunburn of the eye.” Longer exposure can increase risks of developing cataracts or macular degeneration. Eyeglasses also provide eye protection from other irritants such as dirt, dust, debris and pollen.
- Eyeglasses are easy to wear (and consequently, remove) and are, generally, more comfortable for prolonged use.
- Prescription glasses are now available in more functional features such as transition lenses (which automatically darken when exposed to sunlight), polarized lenses, and scratch-proof anti-reflective coatings, among others. Today, prescription glasses can be customized to be lighter, thinner and more powerful.
- Prescription glasses are generally cheaper than a surgery or specialized contact lenses.
- Eyeglasses minimize hand contact to the eyes, and consequently reduce the risk of infection or irritation.
- Eyeglasses can become an extension of a person’s personality or fashion choices.
- Because eyeglasses sit about half an inch from the eyes, peripheral vision can be affected.
- For first time wearers, prescription glasses can initially cause headaches, blurry vision and difficulty focusing on objects. Some frames can also cause pressure on the nose and behind the ears which can be uncomfortable in the long run.
- Eyeglasses can temporarily obstruct or blur vision when they fog up during cold weather or when there is precipitation.
- Strong prescription glasses tend to be thicker, and consequently, more unappealing.
- Engaging in sports or physical activities, like swimming tend to be more challenging because glasses can get in the way.
Types of prescription glass lenses
- Single vision lenses
These are lenses made for one viewing distance only—near, intermediate or far.
- Multifocal or progressive lenses
Multifocal or progressive lenses are lenses with two or more vision-correcting prescriptions. A common type of multifocal lens is bifocal lens. Bifocals are split into two sections—an upper part for distance vision and a lower part for near vision. Another type of multifocal lens are trifocals—basically bifocals with a third section for people who need to see objects in the intermediate zone or within arm’s reach, like a computer screen.
- High-index lenses
This type of lens is ideal for strong prescriptions. It features an anti-reflective coating and provides 99.9 percent protection from harmful UV rays.
Difference between reading and prescription glasses
Reading glasses are more ‘generic’ than prescription glasses. Of course, that is not to say that they are not as important. Reading glasses are commonly used by older people with age-related presbyopia—or farsightedness caused by loss of elasticity in the lens of the eyes common among people aged 40 and above. These types of glasses can be bought over the counter after a trial and error process. While reading glasses can help aid in close-range vision, it is not designed to correct long-range vision problems.
On the other hand, prescription glasses have specifically designed lenses for correcting individual vision problems, and as such, come with higher levels of accuracy and quality. And, as the name implies, prescription glasses require an actual prescription from an eye doctor. Cost-wise, this type of glasses is, naturally, more expensive.
What is it and how does it work?
As noted above, Ortho-k refers to the non-surgical process of using special contact lenses that are designed to reshape the curvature of the eyes. Also called cornea reshaping or overnight vision correction, this scientific technology works by changing how light is focused on the retina which is located at the back of the eye.
Why is this important?
When our eyes focus on images, it relies on the cornea, the clear front surface of the eye, and the crystalline lens, a clear structure inside the eye that changes shape so we can focus on objects. Normally, these two parts have a smooth curvature that allows them to bend or refract incoming light.
A myopic person has an eyeball that too elongated or a cornea that is too curved. When this happens, the light entering the eye is not focused clearly. Instead, the “light rays of images” focus in front of the retina, which is light-sensitive, rather than on the retina itself. This is what causes the blurred vision.
The AAOMC further explains that the cornea is what “separates the eye from air and the rest of the outside world,” and its curvature which bends light to the back of the eye is responsible for “most of the eye’s corrective power.” The status of the cornea contributes to refractive errors such as myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and astigmatism.
The special and custom designed contact lenses used in Ortho-k gently reshapes the cornea while the wearer is sleeping. Upon waking, the wearer will immediately experience the difference—clearer and sharper natural vision.
To create the special custom lens used in Ortho-k, the eye of the patient is first mapped using an instrument called a topographer. This allows the doctor to create lens that match the eye’s unique shape and address its unique problems. The actual lenses are made from an “advanced highly oxygen permeable” material so that it is safe to wear at night, allowing the eyes to breathe overnight. Each lens has several specialized curves and a tear film underneath that continuously flows across the corneal surface. These components are responsible for reshaping the cornea.
Ortho-k is a safe and reversible procedure. It was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2002.
It is crucial to note that Ortho-k is not a miracle treatment. The length of the process varies per patient; it can take one to four weeks, based on initial prescription, corneal rigidity, tear quality and quantity and the patient’s own expectations. It is a process which may require repetitive use of the special lenses for the effects to become more permanent. It also requires constant consultation with a certified eye doctor.
Who are qualified for Ortho-k?
Before undergoing Ortho-k, your doctor will perform some tests to determine if you are qualified for this treatment option. Essentially, the goal of the test is to assess the health of your eyes.
- Ortho-k eliminates the need to wear prescription glasses or regular contact lenses during the day, thus making it easier to do some activities such as water or contact sports.
- It also addresses some of the disadvantages of using prescription glasses or regular lenses, such as fogging during cold weather or irritation and dry eyes caused by lenses.
- It is a safer and more cost-effective alternative to laser eye surgery. Unlike the latter, Ortho-k is reversible and less invasive.
- It is modifiable as the eyes change and progress.
- It is relatively pain-free and safe for children.
- Some studies have shown that, when properly facilitated, Ortho-k can arrest the advancement of myopia.
- It is anchored on solid and science-based technology, with FDA approval.
The British Contact Lens Association cited the European Academy of Orthokeratology in saying that Ortho-k “works best for people who have up to about -6.00D of myopia with no more than -1.75D of astigmatism.”
- First time lens wearers may find it challenging to put on and remove them.
- Minor infections, easily addressed by antibiotic drops and greatly reduced by careful cleaning and disinfecting, can happen.
- The results vary for each patient, and for some, the desired results may be longer than expected. This is why, with Ortho-k, regular consultation and strict compliance are key aspects to achieving the desired results.
Invisalens®: The Leading Ortho-k Solution
For parents of kids with myopia, Invisalens is the ideal choice for fighting against the long-term and worsening effects of nearsightedness.
Invisalens is safe and FDA-approved, and unlike LASIK surgery, is non-invasive and reversible. After wearing these overnight lenses, there is no need to wear glasses or regular lenses for the rest of the day. This freedom allows kids to play ball and do other activities that they normally couldn’t because of blurred vision and restrictive vision aids like glasses.
Myopia can hinder kids from pursuing their goals and achieving their full potential but Ortho-K has now given them a comfortable and convenient treatment option. With Invisalens, clearer vision can begin with one good night’s sleep.