Family Magazine

Dance Freely with Ortho-K at Eyesight.sg

By A Happy Mum @A_Happy_Mum
I've had perfect eyesight all my life.
Right, that means I achieved a consistent score of 6/6 all the way since Primary School and you bet I felt mighty pleased and extremely thankful about it. Okay, maybe I did slip a little at the end because I remember seeing a 6/9 score somewhere but the fact remains that I never did have a need to wear spectacles or contact lens and can proclaim myself to be free from myopia.
After becoming a mum, I naturally hoped to pass my good eyesight genes to my kids and wished they wouldn't take after their Dad in that aspect, but as you know, life don't always turn out the way you want it to. Ever since Angel was young, she had a keen interest in reading and this passion of hers only got stronger as she grew. All she wanted, and still wants, to do in her spare time is read, read and read more. It's a good thing to know that your child is a bookworm yet it gets worrying when she holds the book too closely, forgets to switch on her light, slouches over her table, lies down to read and displays all the bad reading habits despite a million reminders and incessant nagging.
Her first vision test came back with a score of 6/9 when she was in K2 and when we brought her to Health Promotion Board for a more detailed examination, we were told that she had mild astigmatism. This year, she is in Primary 4 and when she did the eye check in April, it came back with an alarming score of 6/12 in her left eye, 6/18 in her right eye and a referral letter to bring her to the optometrist. Yup, the words "Oh no..." came to my mind right away and no matter how hard I wanted to deny it, we had stepped onto the road of no return.
The only few things I could do as a mom were to get her fitted with a good pair of spectacles, try my best to help control her progression and keep reminding her about the importance of having good reading habits. At that point, her degree was still relatively low and she was told that she did not need to put the specs on all the time. She only needed to wear them when having lessons, doing homework, reading, watching TV or movies. Other that that, she didn't need to when she played, ate, danced or ran around.
Within three months, all of that changed.
A revisit to the optometrist made us realize that despite our best efforts, her degree had gone up too quickly. We are talking about 25-50 degree increase in EACH eye. To quote her optometrist at that time, she said it was quite a "drastic" change and we needed to do something about it before it got worse. If we didn't, judging by how the progression was going, we might be dealing with a degree as bad as 500 to 600 when she goes to secondary school.
She then told Angel that she needed to put on her specs at ALL times, which drew a loud gasp and a horrified look from her. That is because not only did she find it cumbersome and uncomfortable to wear specs for long periods of time, she also didn't like to put it on whenever she danced. With dance as her CCA since Primary 2, she has been actively participating in competitions and public performances and will be representing her school in next year's SYF. Most, if not all, of her dance mates have said that they too do not like wearing specs because it gets in the way, risks falling off and of course, doesn't make them look so good on stage too. Well, I guess that forms a big motivation for her to go specs-free.
Thanks to eyesight.sg, the big girl embarked on her Ortho-k journey since September and let's just says she has never looked back ever since. Let me share with you more on what it is all about and how our experience has been so far.
Dance freely with Ortho-K at eyesight.sg
WHAT IS ORTHO-K AND HOW DOES IT WORK
Orthokeratology, or Ortho-K, is the use of specially designed and fitted contact lenses to temporarily reshape the cornea in order to improve vision. It is a surgery-free method to mainly correct myopia, or short-sightedness, which occurs when the eyeball is too long, causing light to fall in front of the retina rather than on it and makes distant objects appear blurred. As Ortho-K works like orthodontics, it is also described as "braces for the eyes". Most Ortho-K lenses are worn at night to reshape the front surface of the eye while you sleep.

Dance freely with Ortho-K at eyesight.sg

Image credit: eyesight.sg


WHO ARE SUITABLE CANDIDATES?
Did you know? Singapore has the highest myopia rate in the world and around 80 per cent of 18-year-olds grapple with the condition, says the Singapore National Eye Centre.
Mr Titus Wu, who is in the International Academy of Orthokeratology, says that children from as young as six years old can use Ortho-K. Primary and secondary school students are good candidates as they experience the highest myopia progression, an average increase of about 75 degrees per year. He also mentioned that research has shown that Ortho-K is “one of the most effective methods for myopia control”, doing so by reducing eyeball growth.
Can adults go for Ortho-K treatment too? The answer is YES, it is suitable for all ages. Ortho-K can also be used to correct long-sightedness and astigmatism.
HOW DOES IT DIFFER FROM LASIK
Lasik is an invasive surgical method that permanently reshapes the cornea. It is not recommended for children and teens because at their age, myopia usually continues to progress and only stabilises at around the age of 21.
Ortho-K, on the other hand, is non-invasive and reversible. When you wear the lenses to sleep overnight and remove them the next day morning, the cornea stays flattened for a while and vision is corrected without the need for glasses. Clear vision typically lasts about 12-18 hours or even longer. However, if you stop wearing the lenses, your eyes will eventually go back to their original shape and the refractive error will return. That also means you have to keep wearing the lenses regularly to keep the vision correction.

THE 3 Cs
When we visited eyesight.sg's outlet in Potong Pasir, we met up with our optometrist Ken Tong, who is also the vice-president of Singapore Optometric Association. He was friendly, knowledgeable and gave us a detailed introduction to what Ortho-K is about, how it works and what we need to pay attention to. In his words, it all boils down to the 3Cs.
Commitment 
- To stay motivated throughout the journey and be determined to make it work
Consistency
- To be diligent in practicing good hygiene habits and be meticulous in your routine
Communication
- To communicate closely with the parents and optometrists and be able to voice out any concern
Once we were sure that she was ready to embark on the journey, we proceeded with the consultation.
Dance freely with Ortho-K at eyesight.sg
Dance freely with Ortho-K at eyesight.sg
Dance freely with Ortho-K at eyesight.sg
FIRST VISIT (25 Aug 2019)
Our first visit lasted around an hour. Besides having a briefing with Ken to find out more about how Ortho-K works, Angel also had her an eye examination so that they could record it in their database. Using an instrument called a corneal topographer, Ken then mapped and measured the surface of her cornea. As the shapes of our corneas and degree of myopia vary from individual to individual, the lens are therefore one-of-a-kind and customised for your needs. Note that the machine doesn't touch the eyes and there is no pain or discomfort involved. In fact, everything was done swiftly and all we had to do was wait for a couple of weeks while the laboratory worked on getting her lens ready.
Dance freely with Ortho-K at eyesight.sg
Dance freely with Ortho-K at eyesight.sg
Dance freely with Ortho-K at eyesight.sg
Dance freely with Ortho-K at eyesight.sg
SECOND VISIT (13 SEP 2019)
This was when we collected the Ortho-K lens as well as learn about the routine, including how to put them on and take them off, how to cleanse them, how to store them and so on. When we first saw the lens, we were curious as to why one was blue and one was green. It turned out that this made it easy for Angel to remember which is for which eye - BLUE for Left and GREEN for right.
These lenses are referred to as hard lenses because they are more rigid and sturdy so that they can help to reshape the cornea when you sleep. Yet, they are still gas permeable so as to allow oxygen to flow through and keep the eyes healthy. The lenses are still soft to touch and your child needs to learn to be careful in handling them. We've heard of tears and breakages and that is the last thing you want because each pair can cost over $2,000. Yup, the cost of Ortho-K lenses typically ranges from $1,800 onward but if you are cautious and take good care of them, they can last for a good 1.5 to 2 years and subsequent pairs will come at a more affordable cost too. If they can help to control and slow down myopia progression - which is what we all want for our child - I think that the investment is well worth its while too.
Dance freely with Ortho-K at eyesight.sg
This time, we met with Xue Ting from eyesight.sg who was very patient and kind in teaching Angel the routine. We had estimated that the whole visit would last around two hours but guess what, we ended up spending 3.5 hours here! Haha. Let me tell you why.
Dance freely with Ortho-K at eyesight.sg
Dance freely with Ortho-K at eyesight.sg
Initially, everything was going smoothly as we learnt about the techniques of how to cleanse, store and handle the lenses. Angel tried cleansing and rinsing them and that was not a problem for her. The problem came when she was asked to try putting on the lenses - well, of course she had to learn to do it in the shop! Otherwise, we wouldn't be able to do it at home without professional guidance.
She was quick and efficient when putting in her first lens and that took merely a couple of minutes. Xue Ting and I were impressed and thought things were going well and we could wrap up soon. However, she then realised that it could get uncomfortable and that was when she found it hard to open her eyes. In fact, she kept them closed for a long time before getting used to the feeling of having something foreign in her eyes. Can't blame her for feeling that since it's her first time, right?
Dance freely with Ortho-K at eyesight.sg
Dance freely with Ortho-K at eyesight.sg
So she got a little scared and apprehensive after that and let's just say she tried dozens of time to put in her second lens but failed. This was because she would hesitate after pulling her eyelids wide open and when she finally tried to put it in, she would blink and the lens would fall out. So she had to pick it up, clean it and put eye drops in it before trying again. It took us nearly an hour for her to finally do it and that was with lots of encouragement and patience. For someone like me who doesn't wear contact lenses and doesn't really understand the feeling, I was glad to have Xue Ting who was most patient with Angel and coached her step by step again and again till she was able to do it.
Dance freely with Ortho-K at eyesight.sg
Dance freely with Ortho-K at eyesight.sg
Removing the lenses was comparatively much easier to learn and she could do it in just a few minutes. More importantly, she had to learn how to store the lenses, do a weekly deep cleansing and keep them as clean as possible to minimise the risk of infection. After making sure that we had all our supplies (see below for more), we were ready to do it on our own on the first night.
Dance freely with Ortho-K at eyesight.sg
Dance freely with Ortho-K at eyesight.sg
We bought her a storage box so she could set up an Ortho-K corner on her study table. This girl showed her commitment to her new journey by feeling excited and writing a note that says "Determination is the key to success" which she proudly displayed on her box. I guess we are off to a good start, yeah?
Dance freely with Ortho-K at eyesight.sg
Dance freely with Ortho-K at eyesight.sg
On her first solo attempt, she took 40 minutes to put in both of her lenses and that's already a marked improvement from the couple of hours she used in the shop. We knew it wouldn't be easy at the start but I was also confident that she would get used to it and be able to do it in a shorter time.
After weeks of practising, I am glad and happy to see that she now takes 10-15 minutes at night to wear her lenses before she sleeps and 5-10 minutes in the morning to remove them before she goes to school. That's a great improvement and it also means that the routines are not that time consuming once you get the hang of it. The only thing for her is that one of her lens tend to be more 'stuck' to the eye in the morning so we are trying to improve on that by making sure she gets enough eye drops and that the eyes stay hydrated and healthy.
She has also been advised to let her eyes rest and not put on her lenses if she is having sore eyes, cough, cold, flu or just feeling unwell in general. On rest days like that, she will revert back to wearing glasses though sometimes she says she still sees quite clearly without them and prefer not to wear anything.
Dance freely with Ortho-K at eyesight.sg
Here is a look at all her Ortho-K supplies (other than the lenses):
- Saline solution
- Deep cleansing solution
- Eye Drops
- Cleanser (used once a week)
- Contact lens case
- Suction tool
- Mirror
- Kitchen towel
Yes, this means there will additional expenses considering that you need to top up on any of these supplies when they run out. An estimated cost will be about $15-$20 a month.
Dance freely with Ortho-K at eyesight.sg
THIRD VISIT (14 Sep 2019)
Our third visit took place just one day after getting the Ortho-K lenses. This was to make sure that everything was working well and that she was putting on the lenses correctly. Xue Ting would always help her to do a detailed eye check and would share with me her results and her progress along the journey. Can you imagine my surprise when I learnt that day that she had lowered her myopia degree by over 100 (75 in her right eye, 25 in her left eye)? That was just after one day of wearing the lenses and everything looked promising to us.
Dance freely with Ortho-K at eyesight.sg
Xue Ting showed us Angel's cornea topography every time we visited and we were glad to learn that the lenses had stayed snugly on her cornea so we were getting the correct compression and reshaping. We were also told that it would take weeks, sometimes months, for the maximum vision correction to occur so we had to keep up with the routine diligently.
Dance freely with Ortho-K at eyesight.sg
Dance freely with Ortho-K at eyesight.sg FOURTH VISIT (21 Sept 2019) AND FIFTH VISIT (19 Oct 2019) 
Our fourth visit took place a week after the previous visit and the fifth visit a month after that. Subsequent visits will take place quarterly. I actually like that they have regular reviews because it helps to keep me assured that things are going well and the girl wasn't getting an infection or any issues that we need to worry about.

Besides doing an eye check to determine her progression, Xue Ting would also help her to check if there was any staining in her eyes. So far, we only know that there are some dots under her eyelids which can be due to dryness and is a common problem for all lens wearers so we are making sure that she puts her eye drops regularly, even in the middle of the day.
Dance freely with Ortho-K at eyesight.sg
Xue Ting would also help to check the lenses to make sure that they were clean and had no deposits. She told Angel that she was doing a good job at cleansing and taking good care of her lenses, which was really a good and comforting thing for me to know too.
Dance freely with Ortho-K at eyesight.sg
On her last check, I was also quite surprised to see that she had no problem reading the letters at the 6/6 line during her eye check and in fact she said she could even see the smaller ones. It's definitely a great improvement from when we first started and I am excited to see if everything will get even better as we go along. For now, I remind myself to be patient and remind her to be diligent, meticulous and stay committed in this journey.
The best thing is seeing how happy she is to be specs-free so she can play, run and dance freely - which is her definitely best motivation to keep going.
Dance freely with Ortho-K at eyesight.sg
Thanks to eyesight.sg for helping us to get started on this wonderful journey!
eyesight.sg
148 Potong Pasir Ave 1
#01-51 S350148
827 Tampines Street 81 
#01-146 S520827
For more information, visit https://eyesight.sg or call or WhatsApp at (+65) 9824 1607 between Monday to Sunday 11am-9pm.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored collaboration between eyesight.sg and A Happy Mum. All opinions are our own.

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