The short sighted pugilist.

It’s amazing where an idle chat over the garden fence can lead! One murky afternoon last November while talking to a neighbour, Tom, the conversation got around to his favourite sport – he’s a keen boxer. He knew that I’m an optometrist and so it was only natural that we got on to his eyesight as he was not happy wearing contact lenses when boxing. He was wearing soft daily lenses and they kept being dislodged whilst sparring or fighting. He had considered laser surgery but was not keen to go down that route.  

“How strong are your contacts?” I asked. I have the perfect solution – orthokeratology. 

“Ortho………..what?” Came the reply accompanied by a bemused expression. 

Clear vision all day with no specs or contact lenses.

Orthokeratology, also known as ortho-k, corneal refractive therapy or Eyedream. I design a special type of lens which is worn overnight to gently mould the cornea to the required prescription. The lens is removed in the morning and you don’t need specs or contact lenses all day. Tom looked suitably sceptical but I’m used to that! He came over to our Leicester practice where I took precise measurements of his cornea, spectacle prescription and a couple of other factors; I designed the retainer lenses and he gave it a go.  

It actually took Tom a little longer than usual to fully adapt to the ortho-k lenses. It normally only takes at most a week but he took around a fortnight to get to zero prescription. It was worth the wait as he now has perfect vision all the time and especially when boxing. He found there were other benefits, too, as he is a stonemason and regularly got dust under his lenses. Not any more.  

I get a real sense of job satisfaction helping patients with orthokeratology. The major cause of patients stopping contact lens wear is dry eyes and ortho-k offers a solution. This form of vision correction is great for other sports especially swimming and rugby plus the monthly costs are comparable with premium daily contact lenses. It is totally reversible – if you stop wearing the retainer lenses overnight then after a few days your eyes go back to the prescription that you started with. It is most suitable for short sighted eyes up to a prescription of around –5.00. Other prescriptions are possible, just a little more complicated.   

And who was the first person that I practised on? It was myself. I’ve been using ortho-k for years now and know exactly what it is like from the patient’s point of view, too. Okay, since I’m getting on a bit I need near vision glasses when I’m working but that only affects those over fifty. Anybody under that age will be glasses/contacts free. It’s very liberating. If you’d like to know more then take a look at our website where there is a fuller explanation of the science behind ortho-k or give me a call, I’d be happy to talk it through with you.