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History of Orthokeratology

History of Orthokeratology


It is said that Chinese soldiers first stumbled upon a form of orthokeratology when they would sleep with sand bags over their eyes. Upon waking, they discovered they had improved distance vision which enabled more precise target shooting for their archers.


It wasn't until 1962 when George Jessen, considered the grandfather of orthokeratology, described a technique called "orthofocus" where he was able to manipulate a refractive change in the cornea of up to -1.00. This would last a few hours of the day before the person would rebound and go back to needing their glasses. It became the first stepping stones to the science of orthokeratology.


Research by leading optometrist researchers Holden and Mertz in the 1980s, developed an understanding of the corneal oedema in response to wearing a contact lens during the day and night revealed required oxygen permeability of the contact lens material to invoke no corneal oedema during the day and 3% corneal oedema overnight as per a normal healthy eye with no contact lenses. This led to several innovations over the next decade in the contact lens materials which enabled for contact lenses to be developed healthy enough for day time and night time wear without any compromise to eye health.


In 1994, the FDA in USA granted approval for daytime daily wear of orthokeratology lenses. The prescriptions treatable at the time were conservatively upto -2.00 of myopia.


By June 2002, the FDA in the USA approved overnight wear of corneal reshaping lenses, and was named “Corneal Refractive Therapy.” This included prescription ranges upto -4.00 in myopia and astigmatism upto -1.25DC.  This has led to an increased global awareness with many practitioners and vision scientists committing to the evolving understanding and scope of treatment in the field of orthokeratology arriving at the current day where prescriptions beyond the original criteria are treated with precision and predictability.

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