Just when you thought the only vision correction procedure option was an invasive surgical technique on your eyes, along comes an increasingly popular non-surgical alternative. It has attracted the attention of two non-traditional eye-care practitioners who are now on a mission to spread the word about it. It’s called Orthokeratology, sometimes referred to as Ortho-K.
Optometrists Dr. James Singletary and Dr. Eva Shiau ran a very successful eye-care practice in which they offered traditional vision treatments for myopia (nearsightedness) in children and adults, cataracts, glaucoma and corneal disease in adults, and eye exams resulting in prescription eyewear or daily wear contact lenses. Back then, over ten years ago, Dr. Singletary even promoted the surgical vision correction procedure called LASIK. Over time he noticed something that concerned him.
As he describes it, “After seeing a few patients with post-Lasik vision problems, I had to ask myself if offering LASIK was the right thing for my patients.” After extensive research he discovered that poor LASIK outcomes ranged from 18-23%; much higher than what the medical literature currently stated at the time. Applying that to the thousands of people having the surgery annually, he realized there is the chance that approximately 20% of them will come out with less than satisfactory vision; and excessive dry eyes.
Currently Dr. Singletary is one of the few doctors in North Carolina who does not offer LASIK surgery. He states, “Why offer a surgical procedure when a non-surgical procedure exists that gives the same end-results; and at a lower cost.” More and more doctors are following his lead now that Ortho-K is becoming more popular. Ortho-K is a technique using custom designed contact lenses that reshape the cornea while patients sleep. Upon awakening, patients remove the lenses to experience clear vision throughout the entire day. Dr. Singletary also designs custom Ortho-K lenses for LASIK patients.
According to Dr. Singletary, “Some LASIK patients notice their vision isn’t as sharp as when they first had the surgery. In this case, their vision can be restored by using a custom Ortho-K lens I design in office.” While this restoration is important to Dr. Singletary, he strongly believes the biggest benefit of Ortho-K is in Myopia (nearsightedness) control in young children. He says, “This procedure can actually slow down and sometimes stop myopia progression altogether in children 6 years old and older. This is very exciting and we felt the public needed to know.” And so the mission began.
They changed their practice focus from traditional eye care to total health vision care. The opening of Eye Medics Ortho-K Vision Center was the first step in that direction. Dr. Shiau now concentrates on their existing client base using a comprehensive holistic approach. She describes her approach this way, “It is important to spend time to educate patients, especially the elder ones, about their eye conditions so they can make intelligent choices concerning their ocular health.” This frees up Dr. Singletary to tirelessly promote Orthokeratology through online methods such as posts on his blog, Facebook and Google+; also radio interviews, referrals and public presentations or speeches to school groups such as PTAs, business groups and athletic teams.
In addition to educating and advocating for Ortho-K, Dr. Singletary was so impressed with the benefit to children of slowing or stopping their myopia, he has taken Ortho-K and improved upon it, decreasing the rate of nearsightedness greater than what the current literature states is average. He accomplishes this by combining special “Vision Therapy” techniques with Ortho-K. He calls it K-vision.
Dr. Singletary describes his efforts this way, “Optometrists around the world have used Ortho-K for over 40 years, it is non-invasive, safe for children and it works while you sleep. Yet, 95% of the public has never heard of it mostly because 95% eye doctors in the USA are not trained in the art and science of Orthokeratology. Now we are doing everything we can to spread the word about Ortho-K and our K-Vision procedure so people in general, and parents specifically, will know they have a choice.”