Glasses, Contacts and Surgery: Picking Your Best Solution for Perfect Vision

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eye-211610_1280Wearing glasses isn’t for everyone. If you’re frustrated with buying lenses every year or two years, here are a few alternatives that will restore your vision forever.

Ortho-K

When you think of vision correction, you probably think of wearing glasses. But, there are many other options that don’t involve placing lenses in front of your eyes all day. Enter Ortho-K.

Orthokeratology, or Ortho-K for short, is a method of arresting myopia that relies on contact lenses which reshape the cornea. This reshaping happens relatively quickly – usually overnight. The changes are not permanent, and require the use of nightly retainers, similar to how retainers for teeth are worn after braces correct dental problems.

The interesting thing about ortho-k is that the lenses are only worn at night while you sleep. They are removed during the day, which allows you to see all day without corrective lenses.

The lenses are gas-permeable hard lenses that use reverse geometry to remold the cornea of the eye. This reshaping is gentle and precise, thanks to modern topographical mapping technology used to measure and predict the correct shape of your eyeball prior to the lens fitting.

Ortho-k lenses can be used to correct astigmatism, nearsightedness, and presbyopia. It can also control childhood myopia. The most popular brand of corneal reshaping lenses is Paragon CRT, which was also the first on the market.

Other manufacturers include Bausch + Lomb’s Vision Shaping Treatment  and iSee Ortho-K technology.

Many patients find that they do not have to wear the retaining lenses every night if they commit to a strict 30-day initial nighttime wear schedule. After this “break in” period, lenses may be worn every other day or even every third day, depending on the patient. Of course, some patients do have to wear the lenses every day. Your eye doctor will guide you through the process so that you better understand how this procedure will work for your eyes.

While rare, complications are possible and include corneal scarring, starbursts, and halos. Some patients also find wearing the contact lenses at night uncomfortable.

Permanent Contacts

Permanent contact lenses are lenses that are implanted into your eye. Unlike Ortho-K, these lenses never come out, and are intended to replace contact lenses that are removed and disposed of every night.

The product is often marketed as an alternative to LASIK. However, unlike LASIK, there are no permanent changes made to the eye itself. Instead, a lens is situated in the eye which works with your eye to help augment the focusing power of the eye’s lens.

One of the most popular implants on the market is Visian ICL™.

Because this procedure is a lens, and not a truly corrective procedure, you may need to have the lens replaced if your condition worsens. For this reason, doctors are hesitant to recommend it if you have refractive instability – your vision or prescription changes each year. Also, because the lens is implanted into your eye, there is some, though minimal, risk of infection or complications arising because of the procedure.

LASIK

The idea of permanently enhancing your vision isn’t new. And, the promise of LASIK is longstanding. LASIK uses a laser to reshape your eye and correct the refractive error that’s causing your myopia.

The procedure starts with a surgical tool called a microkeratome or a femtosecond laser. These lasers are able to cut a thin, circular, flap in the cornea of your eye. The surgeon then folds back the flap to access the underlying cornea. Some of the corneal tissue is them removed using an excimer laser.

This laser uses a cool ultraviolet beam to remove microscopic amounts of tissue from the cornea.

This reshapes the cornea, and allows your eye to properly focus light back onto the retina, improving your vision.

In nearsightedness, the goal is to flatten the cornea.

LASIK is also able to smooth out the cornea so that astigmatism can be corrected. Once the procedure is finished, the surgeon folds the flap back over the cornea and it is allowed to heal naturally.

After the surgery, your doctor will do an eye exam to ensure your eyes are healthy and healing normally. He will also assess the shape and thickness of your cornea, pupil, and any remaining refractive errors.

While it’s rare, it’s possible to have complications from the laser procedure which result in the need for “touch up” treatments. Other complications involve a permanent reduction in night vision or starbursting or halos.

Usually, you will require reading glasses as you get older, but this is not caused by LASIK surgery. This is normal for most people. however, some patients do experience dry eyes post surgery, which may affect vision.

As the Director of Cornea and Refractive Surgery at Columbus Ophthalmology Associates, Thomas C. Litzinger M.D. enjoys medically and surgically treating a wide variety of ophthalmic conditions using the latest available technology and techniques. In addition to cataract surgery, he performs corneal transplants, Intacs[R], bladeless LASIK, and many other surgeries related to the anterior portion of the eye.