Most people who want to wear contact lenses should be able to. But, for many, ocular dryness and discomfort can make the experience prohibitively painful. Research shows that approximately half of all wearers surrender their contacts for good when discomfort rears its ugly head. Even the advancements of rewetting drops and improved lens materials haven’t been able to keep patients in lenses. But a new study from the University of Alabama suggests that prescribing overnight orthokeratology (ortho-K) lenses for corneal reshaping can help patients avoid contact lens discomfort during the day.

The investigators looked into the cases of 29 subjects who underwent ortho-K therapy for three months. The subjects completed several standardized questionnaires over the course of treatment, including the Contact Lens Dry Eye Questionnaire (both CLDEQ-4 and CLDEQ-8,) as well as the Standardized Patient Evaluation of Eye Dryness questionnaire. After only one month, their scores showed significant improvement, as did conjunctival staining and flatter keratometry values, compared with baseline. At three months, the improvement was even more pronounced.

Not all symptomatic soft contact lens wearers could be refit into ortho-k lenses, but the researchers noted that those who did stay in them for three months saw “significant and clinically meaningful improvement in ocular symptoms.”  

Duong K, McGwin G, Franklin Q, et al. Treating uncomfortable contact lens wear with Orthokeratology. Eye & Contact Lens. February 28, 2020. [Epub ahead of print].