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An alternative for nearsightedness

Thursday, February 23, 2017

By: Jeff Ash

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More than 40 percent of Americans have myopia, or nearsightedness. It’s the most common eye disorder.


Dr. Brad LaVallie, an optometrist with BayCare Clinic Eye Specialists, offers an option for the increasing number of people battling nearsightedness.


Orthokeratology, also known as Ortho-K, corneal molding or corneal reshaping therapy, temporarily corrects nearsightedness for people of all ages. Studies show it can slow the progression of nearsightedness in children. It also is an option for adults with dry eye or who have trouble wearing contact lenses.


The number of nearsighted Americans is up 16 percent since the early 1970s, researchers have found. Why the increase? That’s a mystery.


“It can’t be entirely genetic, because genes don’t change that fast,” Susan Vitale, a National Institutes of Health epidemiologist who studies myopia, told The New York Times in 2014. “It’s probably something that’s environmental, or a combination of genetic and environmental factors.”


Those environmental factors could include increased use of computers, tablets, video games and smartphones, or increased time spent indoors under artificial light, researchers have found.


LaVallie, who has more than 60 hours of orthokeratology training, describes the process as “braces for the eyes.”


Ortho-K uses specially designed, FDA-approved rigid gas-permeable contact lenses to temporarily change the curvature of the cornea. That change improves the eye’s ability to focus on objects, thus reducing nearsightedness.


Ortho-K lenses are most commonly worn at night, while the patient sleeps. They’re taken out when the patient wakes up in the morning and are not worn during the day. After the overnight treatment, most people see well throughout the day without glasses or contact lenses.


“It’s my new passion in the realm of eye care,” LaVallie says.


Dr. Brad LaVallie sees patients at BayCare Clinic Eye Specialists' main location in Green Bay. Call 920-327-7000 or 877-462-9465 or request an appointment online.

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