Orthokeratology – Correcting Vision at Night with Accurate Family Vision

In September of 2020, we got the news. Carter needed glasses. Both Kurt and I had LASIK many years ago, so his nearsightedness wasn’t much of a surprise. He didn’t win the genetic lottery when it comes to his vision. Being a busy 8 year old with tons of sports and activities, we were worried how glasses would work out. That’s when we found out he had an alternative option thanks to Dr. Lee at Accurate Family Vision. I had never heard of Orthokeratology before, which involves sleeping in nighttime contacts to reshape his corneas and correct his vision.

While I did receive discounted services for my review of Orthokeratology at Accurate Family Vision, all comments are my own. Also, post may contain affiliate links.

When Carter initially found out he needed glasses, tears formed in his eyes in the eye doctor’s office. Yes, he was initially upset, but once the glasses finally arrived, he was so happy about the fact he could see. At that point he didn’t even resist wearing them since he was seeing the world in a fresh new way. His friends at school couldn’t have been more supportive, which I think also really helped. Being able to see clearly is a pretty great thing – he truly didn’t know what he had been missing.

He sure did look cute in those glasses, though.

We spent the next month or so in what I like to call the “glasses honeymoon period.” Everything was going so smoothly, until we started basketball and baseball season. His glasses were getting knocked off his face several times a game. We got him one of the glasses straps that went behind his head, which he hated with a passion. Then we started noticing he was striking out a lot in baseball when he was at bat. Carter’s always been a problem solver, so he quickly realized he hit better without his glasses. I’m not a baseball coach, but I’m pretty sure clear vision has to be better than swinging at a fuzzy ball.

That was the point when we really started researching our options. Glasses turned out better than expected, other than during sports. Yes, we looked into traditional soft contacts, but I couldn’t imagine what would happen if one popped out at school or during a game. Shortly after Carter got his glasses, a friend of mine, Dr. Amy Lee at Accurate Family Vision, let me know about Orthokeratology (Ortho K), which is also called Corneal Refractive Therapy (CRT). I asked around and literally no one ever heard of Ortho K before, so I kept digging.

About Orthokeratology

Orthokeratology temporarily reshapes the cornea to change the way light enters the eye and correct vision problems. A fitted, gas permeable, hard contact lens flattens the front of the eye at night during sleep, and then nothing has to be worn during the day. Yep, you read that right. Carter no longer needs to wear glasses or contacts other than while he is asleep! Pretty amazing, right? Not only is this ideal for a busy 8 year old, I don’t have to worry about broken glasses or contacts falling out at school.

Carter has been wearing CRT lenses by the brand Paragon, which is actually a company based here in Arizona. While I always love supporting a local company, the brand also represents CRT in Japan, China and other countries around the world. We are lucky to have this amazing organization right in our backyard.

Overall, the lenses have been a total blessing for our family. Yes, teaching a kid of any age to put in contacts isn’t easy, but the ability to see perfectly without glasses or contacts has been wonderful. I’ve received countless questions over the past few months while I documented our journey on my Instagram Stories. I’ve rounded up the most common questions in this post to best describe our experience with Orthokeratology.

What are the risks?

As a concerned mom, this was the first question I asked as well. As it turns out, Ortho K contacts have the same general risks as traditional contacts. They need to be kept clean or you run the risk of infection. Before he or I ever touch the contacts, we both wash our hands. It’s funny because Carter takes the hand washing part of the process very seriously. He won’t let anyone touch his eyes without washing his hands. I’m not complaining about that one!

Even though Carter can now put them in and take them out on his own, I still take charge when it comes to cleaning. After he gets the lenses in each night, I thoroughly clean his contact case and put fresh solution in his case so it’s all ready to go for the next morning. Also, once a week, I put in Protein Remover drops in his contact case during the day. One day, when he’s slightly more responsible, I’ll transfer full cleaning duties onto him.

Additionally, wearing Orthokeratology contacts have one huge benefit. It reduces the risk of continued myopia, which means they will prevent his eyes from getting worse over time.

How well do they work?

Awesome! When Carter got his contacts, he had 20/200 vision. Basically, he could barely read the big E at the top of the eye chart because everything was blurry. After wearing the contacts for one night, he had 20/30 vision in one eye and 20/50 vision in the other. After the first week, he had perfect 20/20 vision in both eyes with absolutely nothing in them during the day. Pretty remarkable, right?!

Can adults do Ortho K?

Yes! Dr. Lee said she’s successfully treated many adults. However, you must be a candidate with only certain eye conditions. If you are in the greater Phoenix area, give her office a call to set-up a consultation to determine if you are a candidate.

How did it go teaching an 8 year old to put in contacts?

It’s amazing what we can teach kids to do. Carter has been using his contacts for over two months now and he can get them in at night in less than 5 minutes and takes them out 100% on his own each morning. Some days are definitely better than others. When we go to bed earlier and he’s less tired, the process goes a lot quicker than when it is late.

Dr. Lee’s staff at Accurate Family vision did a wonderful job teaching him how to put in and take out the contacts. They were beyond patient with him and gave him all kinds of tips and tricks for how to hold the contact, his eyes, and the small plunger which is used to take them out.

I’ll be honest, it took us over an hour the first night to get them in. The first week or so wasn’t easy, but I truthfully think it just depends on the kid. Carter is a pretty laid back kid who doesn’t give up easily. Thankfully we have it down pat, now!

How does Carter do sleeping in his contacts?

Before we started Ortho K, this was a big concern of mine. Especially during Covid and virtual school, Carter was having some major sleep anxiety. I was worried that would come back when he put the lenses in his eyes at night, but it’s been a total non-issue. If anything, he’s been a better sleeper because once his contacts are in his eyes for the night, it’s lights out. There is no more reading in bed, playing with his stuffed animals, etc. It also helps that sports and school keep him busy during the day, so he’s usually pretty tired when he goes to bed.

The first few nights he was wearing his lenses, the skin around his eyes was a tiny bit irritated because he struggled to hold his eyes open. He initially asked for an ice pack to soothe the irritated skin, and eventually I bought him one of those eye masks you can toss in the freezer. His skin was back to normal after the first few days, but he still likes wearing the cooling mask while he falls asleep each night. It’s kind of silly, but I do think it helps him fall asleep.

Are the contacts hard to get out?

I also had this same question when we started the Orthokeratology journey. I remember many years ago when I’d fall asleep on the couch with my soft contacts in my eyes. It was torture trying to get them out, as they would feel stuck to my eyeball. The hard lenses are nothing like that. A small plunger is used to easily remove the contacts in the morning. Since the hard contacts are so small, this tiny little device helps remove the lens from the eye. By day 3 or 4, Carter had this process down. Especially on weekends, my early bird tends to wakeup before I do and has zero problems getting them out himself.

Are the contacts the same as the daily contacts?

No, CRT contacts are actually a hard contact lens that are meant to be used over and over. They are smaller in size and are tinted a slight blue color so you can easily spot them in the solution, or if you happen to drop it. Carter has to use a contact solution specific for rigid gas permeable lenses. So far, Unique PH has been our favorite contact solution. He will get a new pair of lenses every year and can keep his old set as a backup.

Can the hard contact break?

Yes, they can. We were told during Carter’s contact orientation to thoroughly inspect the contacts each night before he puts them in. We actually did have one break about a month after we got them, which I understand happens very rarely. The good news is it was still under the manufacturer’s warranty and was replaced free of charge. These things can happen!

Can he skip a night?

Yes! While the doctor recommends skipping as few days as possible to keep optimal vision, it isn’t going to hurt anything to occasionally skip a night. It’s possible by the end of the second day he might not be able to see as clearly, but Carter has never noticed a significant difference. We skipped a night when we took a redeye flight back from spring break in Hawaii, and I’d let him skip again if he had a sleepover at a friend’s house.

Does he have to wear them forever?

Not at all. If he ever decided in the future he didn’t want to continue with the Ortho K contacts, he could always stop and go back to glasses or traditional contacts. Also, once he reaches adulthood, he could also consider getting LASIK to correct his vision permanently.

Is Ortho K new? Why have I never heard of this before?

No, it isn’t new at all! It was originally created back in the 1960’s, but was approved by the FDA for overnight use in 2002. From my perspective, it appears a lot of the larger vision chains don’t offer it to their clients as a solution. It does require a number of office visits to make sure the contacts fit properly and vision is corrected as intended. Make sure to seek out a doctor with significant experience in Orthokeratology. If you are in the greater Phoenix area, I can’t recommend Dr. Amy Lee at Accurate Family Vision enough!

For the record, I’m not an Optometrist. I’m just a mom who wants the best for my son and his vision. Consult your eye doctor with any specific questions or concerns.

Any other questions about Orthokeratology? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer!