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A Nonsurgical Alternative to Glasses and Contacts

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When it comes to fixing blurry vision, three options come to mind: glasses, contacts and LASIK. Few people know there is actually a fourth way to correct vision. That is orthokeratology, also known as ortho-k, the reshaping of the cornea.  

Orthokeratology is done with a customized corneal mold that is worn overnight. While the wearer is sleeping, the cornea painlessly changes shape. Upon removal of the mold in the morning, vision is clear. That’s right! It means no surgery, no glasses and no daytime contact lenses.  

Patients often ask, “Why have I never heard of this before?”

Dr. Alison Halpin of Maltavista Optometry & Orthokeratology in Malta, comments, “I think the reason a lot of optometrists don’t practice this is because it requires some specialized training and some specialized equipment. Also, since FDA approval occurred relatively recently in 2002, optometrists who have been practicing for 20+ years might not be comfortable adding something new to their practice. 

“I think it’s important to stay cutting-edge. I also think it’s important for my patients to know all their options for treating blurry vision.” 

The lens is continuously worn each night to maintain the cornea’s new shape. If the wearer decides to discontinue, the cornea returns to its original shape. Unlike LASIK, ortho-k is completely reversible, which is one of the reasons it’s considered safe.  

How safe is it exactly? “The biggest risk we take when putting anything in the eyes, whether it’s a soft contact, hard contact or ortho-k lens, is microbial keratitis, a corneal infection,” Dr. Halpin explains. “We minimize this risk by practicing diligent cleaning of the lenses and regular follow-up. According to a 2013 report from Optometry & Vision Science journal, rates of microbial keratitis have been reported to be approximately 7.7 cases per 10,000 patient years. In other words, of 100 patients in lenses, there would be, on average, one case every 13 years. Most cases were associated with improper care of lenses.”  

Who is a good candidate? Ortho-k is mostly practiced on children due to the fact that it has been shown to slow the progression of nearsightedness, increasing in prevalence at alarming rates. However, it works well on adults also. The best candidates are those with a prescription of up to -6.00 diopters of myopia, or nearsightedness.   

Candidacy for ortho-k is determined at a consultation. A consultation involves corneal topography, which measures the exact corneal curvature, an evaluation of the corneal surface, as well as briefly trying on the lenses and adequate time for questions. 

Maltavista Optometry is located at 2715 Route 9, Suite 204, Malta, New York. Contact us at 518-450-1444 or visit to learn more about orthokeratology and schedule a consultation.