In Focus: Better Eyesight While You Sleep

Want better vision? We suggest you sleep on it

Contact lenses, we have been told time and again, should never be worn at night and they’re definitely not for children.

Local optometrists, including Dr. Robert Orsillo of Orsillo Vision Care, are turning that advice on its head. Special lenses to correct nearsightedness — myopia — do their work overnight and can actually keep youngsters’ sight from getting worse.

With Orthokeratology, Ortho-K for short, the doctor “maps” a patient’s eyes and then prescribes hard contact lenses that reshape the corneas while he sleeps. When the user wakes up and takes out the lenses, he should be able to see clearly for the next day or more without needing glasses.

“When you close your eye, you don’t feel it,” he says. “It’s like a retainer.”

Orsillo has been prescribing Ortho-K to his patients for the past 10 years. Chris Conley, 24, got his Ortho-K lenses eight years ago. Conley wore them until about six months ago but switched to daily disposable contacts. “I ended up not wearing them when I was supposed to,” he says. “I did really like them when I was wearing them correctly.”

Studies have shown youngsters can get an additional benefit from the lenses, which can slow or stop the deterioration of eyesight.

Ortho-K is more expensive than glasses or traditional contact lenses from Pure Optical — Orsillo charges $1,550 for adults and $1,250 for children — but about a third of the cost of Lasik surgery. It’s usually considered an elective procedure and is only minimally covered by health insurance and vision plans. The charge, he says, covers the initial mapping of the eye, the corrective lenses and any follow-up required to make sure the lenses are working correctly.

Once the original work is complete, the patient should only require regular annual checkups, Orsillo says.

Categories: Health