Highland Opticians/Two Opticians/Visioncare2000

Ortho K, short for Orthokeratology, sounds like Orthodontistry, are kind of like braces for your eyes. Ortho K lenses are hard contacts that you wear when you are sleeping that reshape your eyes so that when you take them off in the morning, you can see all day without having to wear glassses or contacts. They have the added benefit of acting like a retainer that keeps your eyes from growing longer and have been shown to prevent the progression of nearsightedness.

Ever since I fit myself in Ortho K contacts in optometry school in 2012, I have been fitting patients in Ortho k contacts. In the last 10 years, I have noticed that patients who wear Ortho K lenses have stable prescriptions that don’t change whereas patients who don’t wear Ortho K lenses tend to get more and more nearsighted every year.

As an eye doctor, I believe that Ortho K is the best preventative option for our eyes. Why just correct a prescription when you can prevent it from getting worse. This is especially true in kids, where the younger they can be fit into ortho k lenses, the more we can prevent their prescription from happening, before it happens.

Nearsightedness is caused by near work (digital device use as well as just reading old fashion books). Nearsightedness has exploded to pandemic proportions since the 1970s as we started staring at digital devices more and more. It is projected that 50% of the world population will be nearsighted by 2050.

For something that billion of people have, it’s surprising to me how few people even know they have it. Most patients I see are nearsighted, but don’t know it. And they pass it down to their kids, who also don’t know they it. They just know that their vision is blurry, and that it gets worse and worse every year. But all of this is preventable. Ortho K is very effective in preventing the progression of nearsightedness. We should all be preventing our nearsightedness, not just correcting the symptoms of it, the blurry vision. We shouldn’t have to just suffer through our vision getting worse and worse very year. My vision started going blurry when I was 8 (which is the average age kids become nearsighted). My nearsightedness got worse every year until I fit myself in Ortho K lenses when I was 24 and my prescription stopped getting worse after that. But it was already too late for me. Without my ortho k lenses, I can’t even see the big E on the top of the eye chart (but I know it’s there). With my ortho k lenses, I can see 20/20, but it still sucks that my natural eyesight is so poor and that it could have been prevented if my mom, a world renown ophthalmologist who is an expert in Glaucoma but not nearsightedness, had fit me on Ortho K lenses when I was a child.

My mom. Dr. Haiyan Gong MD, PHD is a world renown Glaucoma specialist who gets invited all around the world to talk about her Glaucoma research. She has 73 peer reviewed NIH publications and has written textbooks. An estimated 57.5 million people worldwide are affected by Primary Open Angle Glaucoma with a global prevalence of 2.2%. The global prevalence of nearsightedness is nearing 50%. When patients are diagnosed with Glaucoma, it is treated as a disease and every possible measure is taken to prevent it from getting worse. Patients come in every 3 months for pressure checks and take eyedrops multiple times a day and sometimes undergo eye surgery as well. But nearsightedness is not even considered a disease. People just accept it and get glasses or contacts to correct the blurry vision. Most don’t even try to prevent it from getting worse. But as nearsightedness gets worse, it increases your risk of getting diseases like Glaucoma. If we prevent nearsightedness in kids, we might be able to prevent Glaucoma in adults.

I am really passionate about preventing nearsightedness and want everyone to know that preventing your nearsighted prescription from getting worse is not just an option, but the best option. Ortho K is the option I chose for my own eyes, as well as for the eyes of my 3 kids. And I’m trying to grow awareness of Ortho K as an option, both my telling all my patients about it in my office and by promoting it online on this blog and on social media.

I am actually really bad at social media, and am going to try a make a bigger effort to post things to spread #preventativeeyecare and #nearsightedlife. Anyone know how to make a hashtag trendy?

I think people prefer videos now so I’m trying to learn how to use tiktok and youtube and instagram reels.

This is a really great TED talk on preventing nearsightedness by Dr. Nicholas Despotidis, an Optometrist, Author, and Lecturer who is like the Ortho K Guru:

I think this video is amazing, but it has less views than personal videos I’ve posted of me on vacation, or my kids being cute, or my adorable pet bunnies. The videos I post on my personal instagram and tiktok @nearsightedlife tend get more views than informative eye care related videos I post on my business instagram and tiktok @preventativeeyecare.

But I really want to create more awareness about myopia progression and all the risks and visual complications it causes. So I enlisted the help of my son, who currently wants to be a youtuber when he grows up, and set up a youtube channel for Preventative Eye Care. My kids are better at social media than me. Maybe I should just let them educate their generation about nearsightedness prevention.

I fit all my kids in ortho k lenses because I want to prevent as much of their myopia as possible because the higher their myopia levels, the higher their risk of the most prevalent sight threatening eye diseases.

This is my 9 year old son Asher putting in his ortho k lenses. He’s a pro.

And this is my 4 year old daughter Dalia wearing her ortho k lenses.

Johnson & Johnson recently launched their Acuvue Abiliti ortho k lens. Now that Johnson & Johnson has realized that the future of eyecare is preventative eye care, I’m sure the general population will soon realize this as well. And I will be here to fit them into ortho k lenses.

I also posted videos on tiktok since that seems to be one of the most popular social media platforms at the moment:

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