What is Corneal Molding?
It is a specialty program designed to reduce or eliminate myopia (near-sightedness) and astigmatism (irregular eye surface). This procedure utilizes a highly customized contact lens (corneal mold) to gently and safely change the surface of the eye while you sleep in order to naturally improve vision.
How long does Corneal Molding take?
- It depends on the severity of the problem – smaller prescriptions tend to respond faster.
- Some people are able to see 20/20 after wearing the corneal molds for only one hour!
- For most people the best vision will occur after 2-6 weeks.
What are the benefits of Corneal Molding?
- Better vision without help from glasses or contact lenses within days to weeks;
- Free of risks associated with laser surgery (see next section);
- Occupational vision demands may be met for careers such as pilots, policemen, firemen or any job that requires better visual acuity;
- Helps prevent progression of near-sightedness in children
- Provides excellent vision for athletes (baseball, basketball, football, etc).
How does Corneal Molding compare with Laser vision surgery?
- Ortho-K is not a surgical procedure. Since there is no cutting or burning of tissue, there is no possibility of scarring to the cornea (outer surface of the eye). Scar tissue with resulting decreased night vision is a possible side effect of laser surgery;
- Ortho-K is reversible which means a maintenance regimen is needed to maintain the new shape of the cornea;
- Ortho-K costs less than laser surgery by about half;
- There is no post-operative discomfort as can be the case with surgery.
What about using Corneal Molding with children? Unlike laser vision surgery, corneal molding (also called accelerated orthokeratology) can be used with children. Surgery is not performed until at least age 21. The corneal molds can be used with children as young as age 10. By stopping and reversing the progression of nearsightedness at an early age we are able to improve lifestyles. Glasses can be quite cumbersome for an active youngster. They can break and the lenses are scratched. Soft contact lenses do little to stop the progression of myopia and with children they are often not cleaned and disinfected properly. Ortho-K can be a tremendous benefit for these kids and others involved in various sports.
What is necessary to proceed? First a complete assessment of eye health is completed. You are able to discuss the treatment and specific questions with us. Your next visit is for the corneal mold evaluation. Diagnostic contact lenses are used to determine the best fit with your eyes. This is aided with the use of corneal topography (a precise elevation map of your cornea). The corneal molds are then ordered from a contact lens laboratory. These specially designed contacts can reshape the cornea because of several unique curvatures ground onto their back surface. These surfaces mold the tissue called the cornea.
The lenses are made of a highly oxygen permeable material. When the molds arrive from the lab you are contacted for a dispensing visit (this is usually in a couple of days). It is at this time that you will learn how to apply and remove the molds. You will also be taught how to care for the molds. After wearing the molds for one hour, they are removed and vision is checked. Many will see 20/20!
Dramatic improvements are usually seen. Most of the visual improvements occur in the first few days to weeks. As the molds begin to do their magic, we are monitoring eye health regularly. After maximum results are achieved, retainer molds are worn to maintain the new eye shape. The amount of wearing time of these lenses varies with the individual case. The goal is for the patient to be free of contacts or glasses for the majority or all of their waking hours, while enjoying improved vision.
What are the Fees?
The fees for corneal molding varies depending on your prescription. Neither laser vision surgery nor orthokeratology is covered by insurance. This is because these procedures are defined as cosmetic. However Corneal Molding is significantly less than laser vision surgery.
Is Corneal Molding right for you?
Ortho-K is a safe and effective procedure for vision improvement. Studies conducted at major universities, including UC-Berkeley and San Diego, found the procedure to be safe, without harmful side effects and effective. Click here for a current research study on Corneal Molding
Today, with advanced technology and new materials, molding can be completed within days to weeks.
Technology is the difference between regular and accelerated orthokeratology.
- Computerized lathes make a very precise and reproducible contact lens;
- Corneal topography provides intricate data on the shape of your cornea;
- Contact lens materials can be worn overnight because of increased oxygen flow.
Very severe degrees of myopia may not be able to be completely corrected with ortho-k. Your particular case will need to be evaluated. Patients respond uniquely insofar as how quickly and completely their eyes react to reshaping – success cannot be guaranteed. Some patients are unable to wear contact lenses due to various health problems.
For the right patient, corneal molding is a wonderful technological breakthrough.