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optometrist, kid runners, Ad for Orthokeratology For Athletes in Long Grove, IL

Orthokeratology For Athletes

If you’re active in sports like basketball, soccer, or football, accuracy and reaction time are crucial. Finding a vision correction solution that leaves you free of glasses or contacts yet provides the best vision possible, almost sounds too good to be true — orthokeratology is the answer.

Myopia, or nearsightedness, affects more than 40% of Americans. Orthokeratology (ortho-k), or corneal refractive therapy (CRT), not only helps young athletes prevent nearsightedness from progressing further, but athletes of all ages appreciate how the vision correction works safely overnight for perfect vision throughout the following day. Unlike standard contact lenses that can lead to eye infections, irritation, or eye injuries during rough sports, orthokeratology allows the patient to be completely free from daytime eyewear.

eye care, kids playing tug a war on rope after treatment with Orthokeratology in Long Grove, IL

Orthokeratology For Young Athletes & Adult Athletes

  • Avoid risking eye damage if a ball hits you in the eye.
  • Avoid a contact lens irritating your eye in the middle of the game.
  • Avoid forgetting your prescription sports goggles at home.
  • Unrestricted peripheral vision throughout your day.
  • Amazingly clear vision that lasts the whole day.
  • Swimming without prescription goggles.
  • Improved focus & reaction time.
  • Vision correction without the need for surgery.*

*Many athletes avoid eye surgery due to the potential loss of vision and risk of eye complications involved. Orthokeratology is not only reversible but guarantees the same benefits as LASIK.

Why Don’t Athletes Know About This?

eye exam, woman enjoying eye exam in Long Grove, IL

Orthokeratology Isn’t New

Orthokeratology has been FDA approved for nearly 20 years — since 2002. That’s quite a track record, especially when orthokeratology has only continued to grow in popularity. Not all eye doctors offer this treatment at their offices, which might be why it feels like ortho-k is some kind of "top secret treatment." The process of corneal refractive therapy works exceptionally well for many individuals with mild to moderate nearsightedness, and the earlier a patient begins wearing ortho-k lenses, the more their myopia can be kept at bay.

eye doctor, baseball player benefiting from Ortho-K in Long Grove, IL

Orthokeratology Started Off Slow

The reason that athletes aren’t aware of orthokeratology mainly stems from the popularity of LASIK and daytime contact lenses. While orthokeratology in the early years had some unpredictable outcomes, modern molds and advanced corneal topography results in a safe, accurate and predictable process to non-surgically correct nearsightedness and even astigmatism. Due to the various benefits associated with orthokeratology, research has continued to address the effectiveness of orthokeratology and presbyopia (farsightedness).

optometrist, kids playing soccer after wearing Orthokeratology lenses in Long Grove, IL

Creating Awareness & Finding The Right Eye Doctor

LASIK centers and contact lens companies spend a lot of money on marketing their products / procedures, so most athletes are aware of their benefits and risks. Orthokeratology, however, has yet to achieve the same reach as other methods of vision correction. Plus, an eye doctor requires added specialized training to be able to fit patients for ortho-k lenses. While orthokeratology offers amazing advantages for young and adult athletes, the main challenge is discovering an eye doctor who offers these lenses.

optometrist, girl tennis player Athlete after Orthokeratology in Long Grove, IL

Why Should Athletes Choose Orthokeratology Over Surgery?

The biggest advantage of ortho-k is its safety. Completely safe and reversible, orthokeratology is an ideal option for athletes who want perfect vision without risking their careers. The corneal reshaping of the front of the eye can correct nearsightedness and even astigmatism similar to a LASIK procedure or any other refractive surgery — without the surgery! Refractive surgery is successful for most patients, yet every athlete understands that any disruption in their vision could ruin their chances at furthering a career in their sport. For years, athletes have taken the plunge, risking their vision & their careers, when there was a safe alternative. Furthermore, orthokeratology ensures perfect vision throughout the day for athletes of all ages, which means you can address poor vision sooner and improve performance immediately. LASIK may not result in guaranteed perfect vision. Some patients, even after a LASIK procedure, may still require eyeglasses or contact lenses!

Patients after LASIK can face the following persistent & possibly lifelong complications, such as

  • Poor nighttime or low-contrast vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Glare or halos
  • Dry eye symptoms
  • Contrast sensitivity.

While these symptoms are certainly less common, an athlete often prefers an option like orthokeratology that offers little to no long-term vision risks.

Another advantage of orthokeratology is controlling the progression of myopia. When a young athlete starts orthokeratology in their early teens, their eyesight can stabilize and avoid deterioration over time. This is crucial for athletes who want to extend their career lifespan by a number of years, and can reduce the risks of eye disease later on in life.

Patients who utilize ortho-k in their youth can always discontinue the ortho-k lenses and opt for LASIK surgery. However, since nearsightedness is controlled through orthokeratology, a child’s vision would likely stay healthy until they are older. Even if an athlete’s vision is slightly blurry, this will ensure less of a need for eye surgery or a very mild adjustment at most.

eye care, Cute little boy wearing glasses, playing baseball in Long Grove, IL

Why Should Athletes Choose Orthokeratology Over Daytime Contact Lenses?

Contact lenses are often another choice of vision correction for athletes. Contacts are easy to wear and rarely interfere with one’s head and body movements. Plus, contacts provide clear vision during a rainy day and don’t fog up. Athletes achieve excellent peripheral vision along with a complete wide field view of their surroundings.

Unfortunately, contact lenses are often overused and poorly maintained. This means a contact lens wearer is more prone to eye infections, redness, and even corneal scarring. Contact lenses can move around in the eye, especially if a patient rubs their eyes from dryness or irritation. A brief moment of discomfort in the eye can make or break an athlete’s focus & hamper their performance.

Contact lenses may not correct astigmatism, which can increase the risk of a misplaced contact or unstable vision. While a contact lens may provide some clarity, a contact lens wearer with an astigmatism may actually be viewing the world with less precision and reduced reaction time. Lastly, contact lens wearers are more prone to eye allergies or seasonal irritants like wind or extreme temperatures, another reason why contacts aren’t the ideal solution.

Orthokeratology avoids most contact lens related problems as they are worn overnight while sleeping. Maintenance is far easier than conventional contact lenses, which drastically reduces the risk of contact lens overuse, eye irritation, or eye infection.

eye exam, football athletes playing without glasses or contacts, after using Ortho-K in Long Grove, IL


Which Athletes Prefer Ortho-k?

Many athletes who have undergone the ortho-k process report positive feedback such as:

  • Confidence booster in their vision and their game.
  • Freedom from eyewear means worry-free during the game.
  • Less risks for eye problems and fluctuating vision.
  • Avoid losing a contact lens or forgetting your backup pair of contacts on game days.
  • Zero chance for eye complications compared to refractive surgery. (An eye complication from refractive surgery can be permanent.)

Orthokeratology has benefited athletes of all kinds:

      • Archery
      • Boxing
      • Baseball or Softball
      • Basketball
      • Rock/Indoor Climbing
      • Mountain Biking or Cycling
      • Diving
      • Football
      • Golf
      • Gymnastics
      • Hockey
      • Shooting/Hunting
      • Martial arts
      • Motorcycle racing
      • Rugby
      • Skiing or Snowboarding
      • Soccer
      • Surfing, Swimming, or Water sports
      • Tennis
      • Wrestling.

Ortho-k provides vision correction without surgery and is widely considered to be only marginally risky. Incidents of complications are extremely low. These complications, if they do occur, are usually mild soreness and irritation, which can be addressed by your optometrist.

Which Athletes Aren’t Ortho-K Candidates?

Most people are candidates for ortho-k. However, these are some circumstances or conditions for which use of ortho-k is contraindicated:

  • Severe lack of tears
  • Allergies to contact lenses or solution
  • Acute inflammation
  • Eye infections

All in all, ortho-k is safe and can effectively correct vision for a majority of kids and adults. If you're interested in seeing if ortho-k is right for you, call our office or make an appointment.

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Long Grove | Buffalo Grove | Arlington Heights | Palatine | and the state of Illinois