Ortho-K vs Laser Refractive Surgery (LASIK), what are some of the disadvantages and risks?

“For people with unstable vision, Ortho-K is an option when LASIK surgery is not. Most of the time people who have LASIK are very happy with the outcome. However, those who aren't happy cannot reverse the surgical procedure and go back to how they were previously. With Ortho-K the process will reverse itself when OrthoK is discontinued.”

Disadvantages of using Ortho-K

Same risks as for other contact lens wearers-

  • Need to maintain high hygeine standards to reduce risks of eye infection such as conjunctivitis and keratitis.
  • Long-term wear of any contact lens, or many years of wear, can affect the structure of the corneal endothelium (polymegethism). This was mainly a problem with old style contact lenses. Modern contact lenses are designed to breathe so they do not cause such problems in most people.
  • The ortho-k effect only works while you are doing the procedure. If you cease ortho-k, your eyes return to normal.
Disadvantages of using LASIK surgery

  • Permanently alters the eye by burning parts of the cornea away with a laser. However, this does not mean that vision will be good permanently. Vision can still change and glasses may be required again a few years later.
  • Common complications with LASIK or refractive eye surgery are glare sensitivity and dry eyes.
  • The surgical procedure of LASIK involves cutting through the strongest part of the cornea (Bowman's Layer) which reduces the structural integrity of the cornea. The flap is then held in place by only the corneal epithelium.
  • Cutting of the flap during the procedure cuts through corneal nerves which may supply information about whether the eye is dry. This is believed to be a cause of dry eyes.

  • References and further reading

Wikipedia article about Ortho-K

UNSW - Research in Orthokeratology

LASIK Surgery Complications

LASIK Satisfaction Study

Latest Ortho-K Research Articles


Reduce shortsightedness in teens with ortho-k If your child chooses to have refractive surgery when they are old enough, simply discontinue wear of the lenses and the eyes return to their normal state.

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