Ortho-K & Kids: What Parents & Caretakers Should Know

Orthokeratology, or Ortho-K, is a non-surgical treatment for myopia (nearsightedness) that involves wearing specialized contact lenses overnight to reshape the cornea. Although Ortho-K has been around for decades, it has become increasingly popular recently, especially among children and teenagers. This article will explore what Ortho-K is, how it works, and what parents and caretakers should know about this treatment option for their kids.

What Is Orthokeratology?

Orthokeratology is a non-surgical treatment for myopia that involves wearing specialized contact lenses overnight to reshape the cornea. Ortho-K aims to reduce or eliminate the need for glasses or daytime contact lenses and delay myopia.

Ortho-K lenses are custom-made to fit each patient’s eyes. They allow oxygen to reach the front of the eye while the wearer is asleep. The lens is designed to gently reshape the cornea’s curvature, altering how light passes through it and correcting nearsightedness.

How Does Ortho-K Work?

Ortho-K works by reshaping the cornea while the patient sleeps. The lenses gently press on the cornea, flattening it in the center and steepening it in the periphery. This changes how light enters the eye and corrects the refractive error that causes myopia.

The effects of Ortho-K are temporary and typically last for 1-3 days. Therefore, patients need to wear the lenses every night to maintain the results. However, some patients may experience long-term effects after several months or even years of treatment.

Who Is a Good Candidate for Orthokeratology?

Ortho-K is typically recommended for people with mild to moderate nearsightedness (up to -6.00 diopters) willing to wear lenses while they sleep. The lenses are worn every night, freeing the wearer from glasses or contact lenses during the day. It is particularly popular among children and teenagers, but adults can also benefit from the treatment.

Ortho-K is not suitable for those with severe nearsightedness, astigmatism, or any other kind of eye disorder, such as keratoconus or dry eye syndrome. People with a history of eye infections or corneal ulcers should also avoid this treatment.

What Are the Benefits of Ortho-K?

Ortho-K offers several advantages for children and teenagers, including:

  • Improves Vision: Ortho-K can correct myopia and provide clear vision without needing glasses or contact lenses during the day.
  • Slows Down Myopia: Studies have shown that Ortho-K can delay myopia progression in children and teenagers, reducing the risk of developing high myopia and associated eye diseases.
  • Increases Self-Esteem: Children and teenagers with myopia often feel self-conscious about wearing glasses. Ortho-K can improve their self-esteem by allowing them to see clearly without glasses during the day.
  • Better Performance in Sports and Other Activities: Ortho-K can improve visual acuity and depth perception, enhancing performance in sports and other activities.
  • Convenience: With Ortho-K, children and teenagers don’t have to worry about losing or breaking their glasses or contact lenses during the day.

What Are the Risks and Side Effects?

Ortho-K is generally safe and effective. However, like any medical procedure, it carries some risks and side effects. These include:

  • Discomfort: Some patients may experience discomfort or irritation when they first start wearing Ortho-K lenses. This usually subsides after a few days or weeks.
  • Infection: There is a small risk of developing an eye infection when wearing contact lenses, including Ortho-K lenses. Patients should follow proper hygiene and cleaning instructions to minimize this risk.
  • Corneal Ulcers: In rare cases, Ortho-K lenses can cause corneal ulcers, which are serious infections that can lead to vision loss. Patients should seek immediate medical attention if they experience symptoms such as eye pain, redness, or discharge.
  • Changes in Vision: Ortho-K can cause temporary changes in vision, such as halos, glare, or double vision. These usually go away after a few days or weeks.


As we have discussed, orthokeratology, or Ortho-K, is a non-surgical treatment for myopia that involves wearing specialized contact lenses overnight to reshape the cornea. It offers several benefits for children and teenagers, including improved vision, slowing down the progression of myopia, and increased self-esteem. However, it carries some risks and side effects and is unsuitable for everyone. Parents and caretakers should consult with their eye doctor to determine whether Ortho-K is a suitable treatment option for their child.

At Fenton Family Eyecare, we are committed to helping you and your family achieve the best vision possible through Ortho-K. Our experienced optometrists and staff provide comprehensive eye exams, contact lens fittings, and the latest vision correction and eye care technology. If you want to learn more about Ortho-K, please schedule an appointment with us today!

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