Saturday, August 15, 2009

Quest for perfect vision: The Ortho-k solution

This post is probably more relevant to those who have kids with rapidly-increasing myopia. It is my experience with my two si-mak-gao(4-eyes)boys.


When Sean first had his eyesight tested in London, we were shocked to find out his degree was 350/175! He was only 4 and a half years old then. Brian started wearing glasses in K2, and his degree was around 200.

For the past two years or so, the boys have been put on Atropine theraphy (eye drops), and they saw an eye specialist from Mount E whenever we were back in Singapore. However, Sean's degree continued to increase, very rapidly, despite increasing the dosage of atropine. I was changing glasses for him on every visit back home. As for Brian, he assured me he was seeing well with his year plus old glasses of 475 degrees, so I continued using atropine on him and did not bother to bring him to the eye specialist for the half yearly checkups (expensive lah!).

On Sean's last visit to the specialist earlier this year, his degree continued to increase and new glasses were made, his degree was about 550 on the right side. PANIC! I administered atropine daily. Then when we got back to Singapore, I noticed him squeezing his eyes when watching tv again, and my heart dropped. I knew his degree had gone up again. Was at a loss and was reluctant to continue going to the eye specialist when there was no effect.

Thanks to Chris, a mom who reads this blog, I found out about her experience with Ortho-K lens, a hard lens that is used in the night to shape the cornea. For children with myopia up to 500, this may mean that they would not need glasses during the day. Not having to wear glasses is a bonus, but the main objective here is to address the increase in myopia. This is a reversible process, and you are not cured of myopia, the myopia returns to what it was if you stop wearing your lens for a week or so.

Starting on Ortho-K isn't a simple thing to do. Numerous visits to the optometrist is required during the first few weeks and up to a couple of months, so there was no way we could have done this when we were still in Moscow. Seeing that we would be here for some time, I took the opportunity to consult with the optometrist. We went to Mee Mee Optics in Park Mall, recommended by Chris (Thanks again!).

The optometrist Shawn confirmed my fears, Sean's degree had indeed gone up again within the last few months, and was 650/450 and astig of 175. Ouch!! Heart pain...pain...pain. Sean was really keen to try Ortho-K and kept asking me when we would be visiting the optometrist when I first told him about this. He was getting really worried about his degree as it had exceeded Brian's of 475.

At the shop, he bravely tried the trial pair of hard lens and in two tries, the lens was in. No problem, even though I was told it is really, really uncomfortable. As I had run out of options, I decided to order the lens. They're very expensive, $1600 a pair inclusive of consultation. Replacement pair is $800 every two years.

The lens arrived in about a week, and this was his progress:
Start degree: 650/450
After 1 day: 550/400
After 4 days: 425/375
After 10 days: 275/225
And today, after 30 days: 200/150

His astigmatism dropped slightly from 175 to 150.

The optometrist is ordering a new lens (free) and we'll see if there's further improvement. But the change has been so positive for Sean. No longer is he hunting around for his glasses every morning like a myopic badger and his eyes are brighter too.

Money worth spending? YES!


Now on to Brian. Remember Brian had told me that he was fine and his 475 deg spectacles were just great for him. I tried to convince him to go for Ortho-K as it could mean not having to wear spectacles, but he did not want to. After Sean had been on Ortho-K for about 10 days, and I had seen the remarkable progress, I tried to convince Brian again. He finally said okay, probably to get me off his case.

When the optometrist checked his eyes, golly! we got a SHOCK! The boy has been going around with undercorrected spectacles for dunno how long. His degree was actually 675!!! I badgered him with incessant, "WHY in the world did you not say anything???" He replied that he was fine. Okay, never mind, we decided he needed Ortho-K as well. The good news was that his astigmatism was minimal so his progress could be better than Sean's.

Indeed it was.

Start degree: 675/675
After 1 day: 475/450
After 4 days: 275/325
After 12 days: 100/0
After 17 days: 0/0

Amazing! In fact, Brian has been going without glasses after just a week of Ortho-K. He still has astigmatism of about 100, so Shawn is making him a new pair of glasses for him to wear if he finds it necessary.

Money worth spending? 1 million percent YES!


Yes, I regret spending so much time on Atropine when Ortho-K was available. But I was never in Singapore long enough to contemplate Ortho-K, so I'm thankful we finally made this decision. It wasn't an easy one to make, but thanks to the tonnes of research already done by other mothers like Chris and a few others at a mummies' forum (whose kids are also success Ortho-K cases), I went into this a lot more reassured. One Singapore mother in the US even drove 5 hours away to see their optometrist, her two boys had perfect vision within a couple of weeks. Such sacrifice.

I am so thankful for all the supportive mums out there who are willing to share their experiences. So this is mine, hopefully this helps someone out there.


Hsien said...

Amazing progress!! I'm so happy for the boys (and their mummy). :)

Lilian said...

Thank you Thank you! :)

breve1970 said...

Hi Lilian

What a relief for you and the boys. Guess what? Hannah is wearing glasses too... sigh. Just found out last week. Its 125 on the left and 150 on the right.

We didn't realise that until she complained that she had a bad headache. We brought her to the docs thinking that she was still suffering from her bout of flu which lasted a week. Doc was quite meticulous and decided on an eye check for her. That was how we found out.

Its also partly my fault, though she hardly watches telly, I allow her to read in the car which is REALLY BAD.

Lilian said...

Oh dear. You should talk to Monica about her experience with L-A. They consulted their doctor friend who advised them not to let L-A start using glasses when she was around P1 and the school eye-test showed she needed glasses. Her degree eventually improved so that she didn't need glasses at all. But if she had started wearing glasses, it would have gone up. Or something like that, I forget the details.

All the best dear.

monlim said...

Wow, this is amazing, Lilian, to be able to correct myopia completely, you're right, definitely worth the money! (Take the braces money lah, crooked teeth nebber mind, can see more important!)

Esp for Sean, you don't want him to end up with 1000 degrees at age 10, was definitely a good investment. Happy you managed to solve the problem!

Ann, for first time eye checks, I recommend you bring them to the Signapore National Eye Centre. They will use eyedrops to dilate pupils and can check if the child is really myopic. I blogged about it quite a while back here .

Lilian said...

Hehe...I heard braces cost $6000! So yalah, mine is a bargain in comparison. Though braces correct the problem permanently, this doesn't.

Sean's degree going to 1000 was a possibility as two of Eddie's sisters have myopia of 900-1000. Phew...

Anonymous said...

Hey Lilian, I'm also saving money for my gals braces. Need $6000 so much huh??

Really happy to see the progress of your boys for ortho-K, especially Brian, now he is even more handsome....heeheee.


Lilian said...

That's what I heard lah, in fact, one mummy told me it was $8000, I almost fainted!

Here's hoping Jade's eyesight improves further too! Thanks for everything dear!

breve1970 said...

Thanks Lilian and Monica.

Anonymous said...

You are most welcome, Lilian. Thanks for the well wishes for J too.

Wah, need $8k for braces, I will faint twice.... let me know if you find any good dental for braces. TIA.


breve1970 said...

All the best to Brian in the PSLE Oral Exams!

Alcovelet said...

Glad to hear about the near miraculous improvement of Sean and especially Brian, Lilian. It's all so worth it!

Having said that, I've already spent $3k on RK's eyes; his teeth, even more. But the dentist told me at the most recent visit that they'll need "straightening" when he's older. Aiyo. Can see $8k flying out the window already :(.

elan said...

Oh wow! amazing results.
That's why Brian wasn't wearing glasses on Saturday. I was wondering if he was being vain! So happy for you!

Lilian said...

haha thanks, now waiting to see how Sean will do with a 2nd pair of lens.

Anonymous said...

Just to share about braces...quite a number of kids I know expanded their jaws significantly when they reach teens so that saved them the cost of braces... If the adult teeth are not unusually big, there is always a linger of hope to accomodate later...


Lilian said...

Thanks qx, that's good to know. Keeping my fingers' crossed.

Anonymous said...

Braces don't cost that much. $8k if you're going to T32 at Camden Medical Centre. These days you can get them for $3K - $4K in Singapore.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lilian

Do your boys still wear the Ortho-k lens or do they have perfect eyesight now? I am thinking of letting my eldest boy try first but I have heard of people having problems such as developing ulcers and double vision, so I am a little hesistant but yet at the same time I read about your sons' success with OrthoK.


Lilian said...

Ortho-K won't give you permanent perfect vision. For Brian, he'll have perfect vision as long as he continues using the Ortho-K every night. Sean uses the lens too but he did not achieve perfect vision, the 'success' rate varies from person to person. So far, they're fine, no complaints. All the best!

Anonymous said...

My daughter is 71/2 years old and we are thinking of getting her Ortho-K but really scared from reading side effects on some. One of the doctor in Canada referred not to do it. Although, here in US it is FDA approved. Please let me know how long have your boys using them and any side effects.

Thank you!

Lilian said...

My boys have been on it for about 6 months now. So far, no side effects. If I notice any eye redness or itchiness on a particular day, I'll just skip ortho-k for that night. As a friend said, infections don't happen overnight...just be thorough in cleaning. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Your blog is so much appreciated. My son (11 1/2 year old) has been having rapidly increasing myopia for the last few years but in the last 9 months it has gone from -5.25 to -6.75.

I really understand the feeling of panic you described!

Having researched both atropine and ortho-k (not knowing anything of either previously) over the last week, I am very happy to hear that you have experienced both and have such good results from ortho-k.

I have already made an appointment for my son here at the University Eye Clinic in Hong Kong (which is the place that specializes in ortho-k).

Thanks very much for detailing your experiences. I'm really hoping my son can experience something similar.

Lilian said...

That's great. Do keep us updated on your child's progress.

Anonymous said...

will be vision be back to the 'bad' stage if I stop wearing the lens? Do I need to wear it at night forever? It seems like a temporary effect if im not wrong. Correct me if im wrong.

Lilian said...

Hi Anon, sorry for late reply. Have been busy.

Yes, it's only a temporary effect. For permanent, gotta do Lasik. But this is good for kids, they can go without glasses during the day. It's supposed to also address the rapid increase in myopia.

Anonymous said...

I thought I would let you know what happened after one night of wearing the Ortho-k lenses (see my earlier post of a few weeks ago shown as 3:26pm):

Start degree: 650/675
After 1 night: 425/300

so we will see how it goes when he goes back next week. So far, very good....

Lilian said...

Thanks for sharing your son's progress. I'm so happy for you. That's a really good improvement. Keep us updated.