Fixing my eyesight // My experience with Ortho-K lenses

Imagine this: You've spent most of your life short-sighted, wearing glasses or contacts to correct your vision. Then you try out this new technology- contact lenses that correct your vision overnight so when you take them out in the morning, you have perfect vision without the need for glasses. That's some crazy sci fi malarkey right there. Except it's not. It's real and I'm experiencing it right now. It's called Ortho-k and it's going to freaking change your life!

Ortho-K EyeDream lenses review
I was about 8 when I got my first pair of glasses and my eyesight has been deteriorating ever since. It wasn't until I hit my twenties that I finally tried contact lenses. They were fine at first, especially when I got the continuous wear ones that I could wear for days on end. Then I had an allergic reaction to my suncream (while in Florida getting married. Perfect timing there!) and my eyes went horrifically puffy. The contacts made it worse so I had to remove them and after that, I couldn't really wear contacts properly again. It was no doubt psychological but they'd get dry and irritated really quickly so it was easier just to wear glasses. Then I heard about Ortho-k and couldn't wait to try it out.

Ortho-k lenses work by compressing your eyeball overnight, correcting the shape so that when you wake up, they are exactly the way they should be, giving you perfect vision without contacts or lenses. The results are temporary so you need to wear them every night but if you change your mind, you can just stop wearing them and your eyes will go back to normal with no problems. 

I should probably state categorically here that this post is not a collaboration in any way. I'm just astounded by my experience and, after talking about it on Twitter, lots of people wanted to find out more about it.

THE OPTICIAN

I first heard about Ortho-k from Rich, who heard it from the optician he visited. Having both gone to Specsavers all our lives, he decided to try out a different optician. There's one in our town centre which we initially thought was an independent but it's actually a very small chain called Speccies with four stores, all in the Hampshire/Berkshire area with the exception of Darlington. In my branch there are, as far as I'm aware, only four members of staff, so the service is really personal. After the second appointment, you know everybody there and they know you- nothing like the impersonal experience you get from the likes of Specsavers. It's lovely having the opportunity to chat with the staff rather than being rushed in and out as quickly as possible.

THE ASSESSMENT

Speaking of taking time, the assessment was great because it was really long! First I had the basic checks that I'm used to, with the testing of peripheral vision and taking a photo of the surface of the eye. Then I had an eye test to see how bad my vision was. As you'd might expect, the worse your eyesight, the more difficult the process is but at roughly -5 and -6, my eyes weren't deemed to be too hard. My astigmatism wasn't a problem either and because I'm shortsighted, I was good to go! (Unfortunately it doesn't work for longsightedness). Alongside the standard "read the letters on the board" test, I also had some fancy scans done of my eyeballs. These detect any emerging health issues that the usual photos can't spot but thankfully my eyes were healthy! You can also generate a 3D image of your eyeball so I could see how my astigmatism has affected the shape of my eyes. Because the appointment was so long, my optician was able to go through every single aspect of the test and explain the results bit by bit. It was such a thorough level of service that I was quite taken aback but in the best possible way! Afterwards, I was booked in for an appointment in two weeks to pick up my lenses.

THE FITTING

As I've said, I've worn contacts before so I wasn't worried about the fitting but boy, was it trickier than I expected! The lenses are hard and I wasn't quite prepared for how irritating they are. As soon as they went in, my eyes clamped themselves shut no matter how hard I tried to keep them open. They weren't painful but they did feel very annoying- like having an eyelash stuck in your eye. After wearing them for a little, I was taught how to take them out. This differs from soft lenses but luckily it's a much easier method for people with long nails as you don't touch the actual eyeball at all- just squidge your eyelids together and blink hard a few times. The right eye was easy peasy and popped right out. The left one? Not so much. While I was struggling, the lady teaching me told me all about the time she once had to get a mini plunger to remove contacts from somebody's eyes but thankfully it didn't come to that! After practising three times, I was deemed ready to take my contacts home and try for myself.

THE FIRST NIGHT

I put my lenses in an hour before I went to bed, as instructed, and for some reason, I fully expected them to be more comfortable. Nope, not even a little bit. I just had to lie on the sofa with my eyes closed and get Rich to lead me around the house. Despite that, sleeping wasn't difficult at all. In theory, the lenses are supposed to give you perfect vision while they're in so you can still see what you're doing if you get up in the middle of the night but that wasn't much use for me since I couldn't keep them open! However, I did notice that I could see in the split second I managed to prise my eyelids apart so there's that. In the morning, I took them out (it was much easier to remove them this time) and... I could kind of see. My vision was definitely a lot better, although everything was kind of fuzzy and after 15 minutes, I noticed it was a lot blurrier than when I'd first taken them out. I definitely didn't feel comfortable driving so I took a taxi over to the optician for my eye test. Where my eyes were -6 and -5, they'd got down to -2.5 and -1.5! In one night! I had my eyes scanned again so we could compare the shape of my eye before and after, and the difference was astounding. My optician gave me a pair of soft contact lenses to get me through the day, which was fantastic, although I noticed by the end of the day, my vision was getting worse. I'd gone to London and by the time I got home, I was really struggling to see clearly, even with the contacts in. That's nothing surprising though since it was only the first day.

THE SECOND NIGHT

That night, I popped my lenses back in and the right one took ages to settle. Even throughout the night, I kept waking up with my right eye feeling irritated, whereas the left one was fine. When I took them out in the morning, the vision in my left eye was amazing and my right eye looked as though there was no change whatsoever! I had my eyes tested again and my left eye had gone down to 0.5! To my surprise, my right eye had changed from my usual prescription but at -3.5, it was much worse than the first morning's result. From the scan, it was clear that the lens had been sitting in the wrong place, which could have been caused by a number of reasons so my optician sent me away for a week to keep trying, and gave me his email address so I could send updates in the meantime. 

THE THIRD NIGHT

This time I decided to put the right contact in first so I could make sure it was in the correct place. It went in really easily and instantly felt more comfortable so I was reassured by that. When I went to put the left contact in, it was a lot harder on account of my eyes trying to force themselves shut and I realised straight away that it was in the wrong place. Because I recognised this, I quickly adjusted it and had the most comfortable night yet. Both lenses were practically impossible to feel with my eyes closed and I was even able to open my eyes for a short stretch of time (at one point, I managed eight whole blinks before I had to close them!) In the morning they were still in a good mood and I actually managed to keep my eyes open enough to watch a 4-minute video before removing them. As soon as I took the lenses out, it was clear that my eyesight was much better. The left eye was brilliant, as I'd expect after three nights, and although the right eye was hindered by the previous night's disaster, it was still infinitely better than the day before. This was my first day without a check up at the optician so I don't know what the exact results were but they were certainly visibly improved. 

THE FIRST WEEK

Confession time: I didn't wear my contacts for the next three nights. For one thing, I was driving at 4am to get to the airport and I was worried about my vision being impaired. Then I was going to be in Hamburg for two nights and, since my eyesight is still fairly blurry during the day and declines considerably towards the evening, I didn't really want to be wandering around a foreign city with limited vision. After those three nights, I had a whole five more until my next check up so I figured that was long enough to make some real improvement. When I went back to my optician for the weekly review, I was all excited that I could actually see properly. I'd even driven for the first time without my glasses. Then he covered my left eye and asked me to read the bottom line of text... and I could hardly even see it. Turns out my right eye hadn't progressed at all beyond the -2.5 of the first night. The good news is that my left eye was just above 20/20 vision and I was therefore, thankfully, legal to drive. To push my right eye further, my optician ordered a new right lens since the original is probably too loose, hence the reason why my vision has plateaued.

I was really dreading putting them in after the break but, although it was a bit trickier to actually place them, they were surprisingly comfortable overnight. In fact, I kept waking up in the night worrying that they'd fallen out because I couldn't feel them!

WHAT'S NEXT?

As I write this, I'm waiting for my new lens to arrive and in the meantime I'm continuing with the original one. It's a right pain to get out in the morning as it wriggles all over my eyeball when I try to squidge it, but at least it's only temporary. My vision is a bit hit-and-miss: some days it's absolutely great and others I can hardly read. I'm begin to wonder if my left eye is overcorrecting so that's something to ask the optician when I go back. For the moment, though, it's mostly all going well.

I can't wait until they finally settle and I am free from glasses and lenses. Game changer!

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2 comments:

  1. This sounds insanely cool, but my major worry would be if they failed when driving and then if I put in my regular lenses my eyes would still not be right. Confession - I take my regular lenses out the way you were taught with these!

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  2. This is so strange! My eyesight is pretty terrible this actually sounds amazing haha. Would definitely be interested in hearing how you're getting on if you carry it on in the next few months!

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