Exploring The Ortho-K Benefits
Vision Correction at Pediatric Eye Clinic
One of the hottest topics in eye care today is orthokeratology, more commonly referred to as Ortho-K by doctors who offer this specialty vision correction option and patients who have already adopted this myopia-correcting modality.
As recently as just a few years ago, it seemed as though the only way one would come across information on Ortho-K was to seek it out. With new studies announced and published information on topics like the “myopia epidemic,” today’s chronic use of digital devices, and now on Ortho-K itself, it appears as if this exciting option is finally getting some mainstream exposure. With the help of continuing education events and online doctor forums, interest in Ortho-K is at an all-time high.
Guess what? There are patients sitting in your examination chair every day who despise wearing glasses. The same can be said even for the happiest of your soft contact lens wearers. For some patients, the thought of wearing glasses or contacts is so scary that they do not even have their eyes examined.
With this in mind, there’s a practice technique that I adopted years ago that I refer to as “prescribing freedom.” I use this as the foundation for all of my recommendations and prescribing habits. From freeing people of their dependence on readers with the use of multifocal contacts, to daily disposable contact lenses for the occasional wearer, or even a timely referral of a patient for refractive cataract surgery, thinking outside of the box for creative solutions to improve the patient’s quality of life—and actually selling fewer pairs of glasses—has been one of the staples of my practice.
For my nearsighted patients, there is no other product available on the market that presents the opportunity to improve their quality of life while also potentially slowing down or stopping the progression of myopia (in children and young adults), quite like Ortho-K. There are refractive surgery options that are better suited to treat some extreme refractive errors or for patients with unique jobs or hobbies, and in those situations, my role is to provide an educated referral and effectively comanage postoperative care. But surgery is a mental barrier difficult for some patients to overcome. Instead of prescribing the usual glasses and contacts for your nearsighted patients, why not blow their minds by recommending and prescribing the lifestyle-enhancer that is Ortho-K?
It seems obvious to me that the most important part of any examination is the patient’s chief complaint. However, some eye care providers do not perform the information-gathering portion of the exam and have already made most of their assumptions about what they want to do for the patient after reviewing the technician’s workup and before even talking to him or her. The first question that I ask every patient with vision complaints is simple, but rarely asked, “Do you like wearing glasses or contacts?” For patients not already using glasses and contacts in need some form of correction, I will change it to, “You are having some vision problems. How do you feeling about having to wear glasses or contacts?” Even as an optometrist, I personally hate the thought of wearing glasses, and I am the biggest wimp when it comes to the insertion and wear of even the most comfortable daily disposable soft lenses.
Ask this question of every patient, and be prepared to be floored by the responses. It is time to quit assuming patients cannot wait to come in and buy glasses, order more contact lenses, or maintain the status quo. I follow up the patient’s responses with this statement for my farsighted, presbyopic, or even cataractous patients, “I’m going to try my best today to find a solution to improve your quality of life regarding your vision.” It is now my job to improve their daily vision correction through the recommendation of better glasses or contact lens products or even a recommendation of refractive cataract surgery. For my severely nearsighted patients, I will say something like, “What information can I give you regarding your surgical vision correction options?” Prescribing freedom includes offering to comanage their care through LASIK or even an implantable contact lens procedure.
But for all of my nearsighted patients that fall in the successful parameters of an Ortho-K lens fitting, I hit them with: “I have to complete your eye health assessment, but I cannot wait to tell you about an exciting option that you are a candidate for that I can prescribe to keep you out of glasses or contacts during the day, and keep you doing whatever they told you their biggest limitations of glasses were earlier, all without having surgery.”
MULTIFACETED BENEFITS OF ORTHOKERATOLOGY
Ortho-K is phenomenal in just about every way possible. So much so, that my excitement when I talk to my patients at their initial consultation bleeds into longer and longer conversations about the benefits. In fact, the long list of advantages made it difficult for me to stick to the space allotted for this article! Here are some of the key benefits that I discuss with patients (or the parents of patients).
An Alternative to LASIK in Adults
Fear, cost, and the irreversible nature of refractive surgery are its main limitations. Not only is Ortho-K a safer and less expensive alternative, a main benefit is its lack of permanence. For younger patients, this may mean transitioning into LASIK in their mid-20s. For others, it is peace of mind for them to know that, unlike LASIK, Ortho-K will not limit their potential for future technology or surgical procedures. Another nice feature of Ortho-K’s reversibility is the option to discontinue use and improve biometric accuracy for patients preparing for cataract surgery.
Pediatric Optometrist in Houston.
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