Has anybody tried nightime wear contact lenses?
June 8, 2007 7:45 AM   Subscribe

Does anybody have any experience with contact Ortho-k lenses (the ones the you keep in your eyes at night)?

I have worn hard, gas permeable lenses for many years now and had few problems with them. I do spend quite a lot of time in or on the water however and they can be less than ideal for that. As somebody a little wary about laser surgery I feel that they might be a good solution for me - however I notice the company's UK site lists only 1 optician licensed to fit them in Scotland and I'm thus curious as to whether Ortho-k is still in something or an experimental phase or whether it is becoming a more mainstream product. Also are there other companies that offer something similar?

Like the author of this related question I was influenced by this article in The Independent.
posted by rongorongo to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The British Orthokeratology Society might be able to recommend someone for you. I'm not eligible for orthoK (lenticular astigmatism, as opposed to corneal), but my optician is an associate member and he's one of the best in London.
posted by Kreiger at 8:01 AM on June 8, 2007

Similar in functionality, if not in technique:
I've used Night and Day lenses for 9 months now, and I think they're awesome. You put them in and leave them in for 30 days, 24 hours/day. In Canada they're sold like other contact lenses, for roughly the same cost/year. Compared to other soft-contact lenses I can barely feel them in my eyes at all. The overnight-wear, almost-never-have-to-rinse thing is good, but what I really liked was being able to wear them all day instead of for just 12 hours and then having my eyes get irritated and needing to switch to glasses.

The drawbacks include: they don't correct for my astigmatism, (not huge as I also don't need a very strong prescription) and there's usually 5 minutes every morning when I wake up where there's some gunk in my eyes that needs to be cleared out. I swim in chlorine pools (with goggles) using these lenses on a frequent basis.
posted by cardboard at 8:11 AM on June 8, 2007

As a follow up I'd like to ask what the switch to Night and Day (or the other type) from regular soft lenses is like...
posted by ob at 9:36 AM on June 8, 2007

I didn't immediately go to wearing them for 30 days. Originally I'd wear them for the full day but take them out every night before bed. This lasted a few days, then I moved up to wearing them for a few days, after which they felt like a bit of an irritant and I took them out for an overnight soak. By the second month I was wearing them continuously. I would say the transition to normal use was faster than it was for regular contact lenses. Insertion and care of the contacts is otherwise identical to regular soft lenses.

Prior to this, I was an irregular user of contacts (primarily for sports a few times a week), as I found them too inconvenient for my schedule.
posted by cardboard at 10:31 AM on June 8, 2007

Best answer: One of my friends did Ortho K for about a year or so. (And cardboard, correct me if I'm wrong, but those Night and Day contacts sound totally different. Ortho K reshapes the eye during the night so during the day you don't have to wear contacts at all.)

After watching my friend's experience with Ortho K I can safely say that it would be waaaaay too annoying for me to deal with. She'd hit a period towards the end of every day where her eyes started going back to normal, but it wasn't a consistent change, so she couldn't have a pair of glasses to slip on when she needed them. This lead to lots of difficulty with night driving.

She also said the Ortho contacts were pretty uncomfortable. Ok to wear when sleeping, but not much fun for wearing when you were awake. Plus when you needed a new set of lenses, the fact that the number of doctors who do these lenses are limited means that it's a gigantic pain in the ass to get an appointment.

So anyway, this is second-hand info, having never done Ortho K myself, but all I can say is that as someone who wore gas permeables for 12 years and is fully cognizant of how annoying they can be, I never had the urge to try Ortho K. Are you absolutely sure you can't wear soft contacts? My eyes are -11 and -10.5 diopters, which I always thought was too strong for soft contacts until about 10 years ago when an eye doctor told me it was well within the range of what soft contacts could handle, and that the old theories that gas perms would help keep your prescription from deteriorating further were just myths. Now I wear my soft contacts even when I go swimming, and if I lose one, they're way cheaper to replace. Not to mention that you buy them in bunches, so you'll almost always have a spare on hand.
posted by MsMolly at 11:42 AM on June 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

Yes, it is a totally different thing, but the lifestyle difference sounds similar or better so I thought I'd offer it up.
posted by cardboard at 12:00 PM on June 8, 2007

I wear O2 Optix, which are approved by the FDA (in the US) for up to six nights extended wear. From their website:
O2OPTIX is made with a revolutionary silicone hydrogel technology allowing up to 5 times more oxygen through the lens than the leading traditional 2-week lens, to help protect from the signs and symptoms of corneal oxygen deficiency.
I love them - I hardly notice having them in. I wear them for a week straight, take them out for a night, wear them another week, then throw them away. I highly recommend them.
posted by puddleglum at 12:12 PM on June 8, 2007

I also use Night and Day, and have for the past four years. They're great. I love them. I wake up, and I can see! I don't have to bring a bunch of contact lens crap when I go somewhere. It is almost like actually having perfect vision.

I had been wearing soft contacts sometimes and glasses other times for fifteen years before, and I just put in the Night and Day and left them without a problem; I didn't really have an adjustment period. I found them more comfortable than regular soft lenses -- they are thinner, I believe. I would occasionally have dry or irritated eyes, but since I quit smoking, that doesn't happen anymore.

Do it.
posted by Methylviolet at 1:02 PM on June 8, 2007

Best answer: I've worn OrthoK, regular RGP, and now soft lenses.

Right now I'm about -5 in both eyes, have had astigmatism since age 4< ?>(vision therapy), glasses since age 6, strabismus surgery at age 9, contacts since age 13.

Amazingly, OrthoK were my first experience with contacts - consequently, being extraordinarily painful for the first month or so. But I'd been promised 20/20 vision in a year's time - had to be worth it, right?

For 4 years, I wore OrthoK contacts every day -sometimes for months at a time- to substantial effect. At that age I didn't know what my prescription was, but my vision improved quite a bit. Mind you, not enough to walk around without glasses or lenses in. (My brothers still wear OrthoK lenses, and can go for one/two days without contacts in and are very happy with them - their eyes were much better than mine to begin with)

Frustrated, I switched to regular RGPs. Didn't fit as snugly, required some adjusting from time to time.. but they were comfortable. Wore them for 3 years or so.

Recently, been trying out different soft lenses (USMC req. for aviators) for about a year or so. Haven't found one that's satisfactory. Tons of fit problems. multiple brands, multiple doctors.

In water - Haven't been in the water much with the soft lenses, but OrthoK definitely stayed in the eyes better than RGPs (I think they're larger?, and the constant lens changes to shape your eyes help with a secure fit)

Overall, the OrthoK required the least amt of maint. for me, but in terms of vision improvement, I wouldn't put too much faith in it (as an alternative to LASIK, for example). SHORT: ain't worth the price, but it never hurts to try if you have the means to do so.

If you can find a brand that works for you like Night/Day worked for Methylviolet or 02 for Puddleglum, I say go for it.

Join me in the search. ha

PS - I'd have recommended some docs, but I live in California -_-
posted by s01110011 at 4:04 PM on June 8, 2007

Loyal Night & Day wearer here. Been wearing them for the last 4 years nonstop with only one problem. Last November, I got a corneal ulcer. When your optician says, "Don't sleep in your your (regular) contacts", this is what he's helping you avoid.

For 3 1/2 years, I had been wearing these contacts just how the box says: in on the 1st, out on the 31st, and sleeping with them in in-between, with no problem whatsoever (except to echo cardboard that you'll blink a lot for 5 minutes when you wake up to rehydrate your eyes). Note that this maintenance-free schedule was endorsed by three separate optometrists that I saw in a 3-year period (I moved a lot).

So finally I got this corneal ulcer. The eye doctor I saw this time said (contrary to 3 other eye docs) that the way I had been wearing them was stupid. To hear him tell it, sleeping in any lens is just asking for trouble given a long enough time frame. That being said, the Night & Days are the safest ones around, and you can make them even safer if you just take them out one night a week. When it comes to things that can cause permanent blindness, more conservative=better in my book, thank you very much.

In short, the ulcer I got was a 1-in-100 thing, but you can minimize your chances of getting one by taking them out one night a week (get Google Calendar to text message you at 11pm on Saturdays). I've got nothing but love for these lenses. Try them and you'll love them.

Also, the switch to these lenses from 1-day disposables was practically nonexistent.
posted by mysterious1der at 11:10 PM on June 8, 2007

Response by poster: Thank you for your answers. MsMolly - your friend's account of her various problems certainly makes me question this type of lens. In particular the idea of my sharp vision running out at the end of the day sounds awkward and potentially hazardous (I'd be interested in whether this is a problem for most people). My prescription is about -3.5d in each eye with some astigmatism . My optician tells me that I could switch to soft lenses but that some people report finding these give them less sharp vision - so I am undecided. If I did switch then I would probably want to look at something like Night and Day.
posted by rongorongo at 2:47 AM on June 11, 2007

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