Most people who wear eyeglasses or contacts have heard about LASIK eye surgery to correct their vision. However, there is another choice: Overnight Corneal Reshaping, or OCR, first appeared on the scene in the 1990s and was approved by the FDA in 2002. In many ways, it’s the best kept secret alternative to LASIK that you may have never heard about.
This system may seem revolutionary, but OCR is not a new technology. The concept of corneal reshaping has been around since the 1960s. You may have heard of this process called by other names: Orthokeratology (OK), Corneal Refractive Therapy (CRT), Vision Shaping Treatment (VST), Gentle Molding, or other variations.
Throughout the 1960s and into the 1980s, researchers proposed various lens designs. However, there was no manufacturing technology to produce the lenses. In the 1990s, computer advancements provided the needed technology. Enter computer-aided design (CAD) and computer numeric controlled (CNC) lathes The ability to map the human eye made corneal reshaping possible. These very accurate topographical measurements of the cornea guide the lens designs. The FDA rigorously tested and approved the use of daily wear OCR lenses in 1994 and the use of overnight lenses in 2002.
What Is OCR and How Does It Work?
Overnight Corneal Reshaping is a non-surgical option to correct vision. OCR is a very precise reshaping of the corneal surface of the eye (the outermost clear dome-like structure that covers the colored part of the eye) to reduce or eliminate refractive error. Currently, designs are available for correcting myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), astigmatism and presbyopia (focusing at near as we age). The changes to the eye occur rapidly through the use of specially fitted oxygen permeable contact lenses which are worn while sleeping at night.
The technology behind corneal reshaping involves first making a topographical map of the front of the eye. The map then becomes the blueprint for designing and manufacturing the corrective molds. As opposed to refractive surgery, OCR is noninvasive, reversible, and painless. OCR treatment has the WOW of LASIK but without the risk of surgery to get the same results of great daytime vision without contacts or glasses.
Patients Can Expect the Following:
- Wearing the lenses overnight will reshape the cornea.
- Patients achieve full vision correction in days.
- The clear vision lasts all day and perhaps longer depending on the strength of the Rx
- Continued use of the lenses results in reduced myopia progression.
- OCR can improve nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism.
- The lenses are an option for patients who are not eligible for corrective surgery.
Why Choose OCR?
There are a number of terrific reasons why you should give OCR some serious consideration:
It’s suitable for children
Due to the gentle and temporary nature of the process, OCR is an option available for children whereas LASIK surgery is not recommended for anyone under the age of 18. Generally speaking, as long as a child or a parent can safely handle the lenses, and is motivated and mature enough to understand the concepts, there is no reason they would not be a suitable candidate for OCR. this makes it an excellent alternative for children, who are active in sports or prone to losing or breaking their eyeglasses.
Reduce the progression of myopia
Corneal reshaping is more than just a convenient option for children. Soft contact lenses temporarily correct vision, but they do nothing to slow the progress of myopia (nearsightedness). For children who experience severe myopia, OCR offers lasting treatment.
Studies have shown that the use of OCR lenses can slow down the progression of myopia and, in some cases, have eliminated it entirely. For parents with children who are experiencing the onset of myopia, talking to a doctor experienced in OCR could prove invaluable.
With LASIK there is a relative amount of initial discomfort and recovery whereas OCR is generally a comfortable process. This is an especially important consideration when you’re wondering whether or not it would be suitable for a child. While the lenses may take some getting used to, there is little discomfort, and most concerns are eliminated because they are worn while sleeping.
Reversibility is another source of comfort for many examining the risks of corrective procedures. LASIK is a permanent change and not reversible, whereas with OCR, you can just stop wearing the lenses and your eyes return to their previous shape.
The cost of OCR is a fraction of the cost of LASIK surgery making it a much more viable alternative for families. Costs will vary by the experience of the practitioner and the difficulty of the patient’s case. Expect to pay about half of what LASIK averages in your area, or between $1600 and $3500. Families should understand that it may be necessary to continue to purchase lenses overtime to keep up with the eye as it grows.
OCR offers freedom from corrective lenses without undergoing surgery. To find out if overnight corneal reshaping is right for you or your child, contact us at (913) 432-7676.