Healthbeat 4: Ortho-K lenses, changing your sight overnight

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SERGEANT BLUFF, Iowa (KTIV) — What if you could correct your eyesight and reduce your dependence on glasses and contacts without having surgery?

It might sound too good to be true, but it’s a reality for many.

Well, it’s possible with a treatment called orthokeratology or ortho-k for short.

They’re lenses that patients wear while they sleep to gently shape the cornea.

“It’s been around for a long time but with the current near-sided epidemic that’s going on right now,” said Dr. Ben Uhl, optometrist, “they’re having a resurgence.”

Dr. Ben Uhl is an optometrist with Sergeant Bluff Eye Care.

He says the ideal candidate for the ortho-k lenses are children who are active and/or have a family history of high prescriptions.

“It frees up the kids from having to wear anything whether they are swimming, playing baseball or basketball so just no issues with vision during the day. It also helps if they have dry eyes or allergies cause then they don’t have to have anything in their eyes during the day you just wear it at night.”

Dr. Uhl says patients must wear the lenses for at least six hours every night.

Doctors take a scan and map the patient’s cornea, make the lens and fit it to the patient.

“After that, they’re going to see better that next day typically, not quite 20/20 but in a couple of days they’ll see 20/20,” said Dr. Uhl.

Patients can use the lenses long-term or until they choose a surgical option.

“It’s kind of billed as kid lasik,” said Dr. Uhl, And what we sometimes use it as a bridge to get kids old enough to get lasik. They’re still eligible to get lasik once they get to be 22 [or] 23 [years old]. They stop wearing the lenses we let the eyes come back to the natural shape.

Dr. Uhl says the manufactures recommend to replace the lenses once a year.

Dr. Uhl says the upfront cost for the lenses is roughly $1,000 to $1,200 depending on the prescription.

However, he says weighing the costs of contacts and glasses it’s an investment.

To learn more about ortho-k lenses click here.

Michelle Schoening

Michelle Schoening

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