OUR MYOPIA EXPERTISE
Dr. Thomas Aller is considered one of the top optometrists in the nation and is one of the world’s leading experts in myopia control and orthokeratology.
Dr. Aller's Myopia Research
Myopia causes blurred distance vision. Myopia can be corrected by glasses, contact lenses and refractive surgery (Lasik). Classical thinking in optometry and ophthalmology is that myopia is largely inherited, is unrelated to reading and computer use and it stops getting worse at age 16. After ten years in practice, Dr. Aller noticed that myopia did not stop routinely at age 16, but frequently increased throughout college and into adulthood. He grew tired of seeing his patients getting worse and worse each year and was inspired to try some prevention techniques. After seeing some research proving that bifocal eyeglasses were at least partially effective in controlling myopia progression in children that had tendencies to slightly cross their eyes while reading, he sought to improve that technique.
Dr. Aller reasoned that if bifocal glasses were effective in controlling myopia, bifocal contacts might be effective as well. What he found in a seven-year study of 100 patients was that if he prescribed bifocal soft lenses for the appropriate nearsighted person, adult or child, that their rate of myopia worsening was reduced on average by 90%. Inspired by this finding, Dr. Aller sought and received a clinical research grant to fund further research.
In 2006, he completed a one-year, controlled, randomized, double-masked study of the use of bifocal contact lenses for the control of myopia (The Control Study). This study confirmed his earlier research, now in a scientifically controlled study, that bifocal contact lenses are the most effective control of myopia ever reported.
Dr. Aller encourages all myopic persons in the area to consult with him to see if they might be candidates for this innovative therapy. Children, particularly those with a family history of myopia, should be examined no later than age 5 to see if they are beginning to develop myopia.
Moderate to high levels of myopia don’t just mean thick glasses, but expose the eye to risks such as retinal detachments and other potentially blinding conditions related to the length of the eye and the thinning of the retina. Started early enough, Myopia Control Therapy can dramatically limit the amount of myopia your child might develop in their lifetime.
Dr. Aller’s method of myopia control has received a U.S. patent and has been licensed to an international vision research consortium, with whom Dr. Aller is now collaborating on new and improved methods of myopia control. He now holds several US and international patents in the field. In 2017 Dr. Aller was invited to be an associate member of the International Society of Contact Lens Specialists. He was also appointed as a Visiting Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley School of Optometry where he has been collaborating on myopia research with Professor Christine Wildsoet for over 15 years. In a busy year, he has also been appointed as Adjunct Professor at the University of Houston College of Optometry, formalizing a long collaboration with Professor Earl Smith on myopia control.
Dr. Aller has also joined the International Myopia Institute and is serving as a member of the Clinical Guidelines Committee of the International Myopia Workshop. The goals of this organization include better defining just what myopia is, what its real risks are to society now and in the future and what treatments are available to help control myopia. 2017 and 2018 are shaping up to be very important years in the war on myopia.
Do you wear glasses or contact lenses for nearsightedness or myopia? Are you tired of having blurred vision? Are you concerned about the risks involved in surgical correction of myopia such as LASIK or PRK? Or is laser refractive surgery too expensive? Do you think you would enjoy having excellent vision without glasses, daytime contacts or surgery? Orthokeratology might be a good option for you.
Orthokeratology, or Ortho-K as it is commonly known, is an FDA approved method that can reverse myopia or nearsightedness. With the Ortho-K treatment, you wear specially designed highly oxygen permeable contact lenses while sleeping only. In the morning, after removing the lenses, your vision is corrected generally to 20/20 levels or better. The effect lasts all day and occasionally several days depending on your prescription and other factors. The lenses are somewhat like retainers used after braces, and are worn every night to maintain your vision improvement.
Ortho-K has many potential advantages for correcting your vision:• Ortho-K is FDA-approved as safe and effective for all ages.• Ortho-K is reversible, unlike surgery.• Ortho-K allows for clear vision without having to wear contacts during the day.• If you can’t wear contact lenses because of dry eyes and discomfort, you may still be an Ortho-K candidate.• Ortho-K may help slow down the gradual worsening of myopia.• If you have myopia and presbyopia (difficulty seeing close after age 40), Ortho-K has some unique advantages.
Although Orthokeratology has been performed for about 40 years by specialists in their individual practices, there weren’t any big contact lens companies that sought FDA approval for any particular design. That changed about ten years ago and there are a number of lens designs and Ortho-K fitting systems that have undergone rigorous clinical testing and have received FDA approval. Essentially, FDA approval means that these companies and lens designers are able to make certain statements about what has been proven about their lenses and systems related to the type of results that can be expected by patients using their lenses.
Ortho-K is Reversible
Ortho-K is not permanent and the retainer lenses need to be worn every night or mostly every night in order to maintain the improved vision. LASIK, on the other hand is a one-time treatment whose effects are permanent. There are times when people might want to either restore their previous vision, in order to improve reading vision after age forty for example and Ortho-K would allow for this, while after undergoing LASIK for myopia, it is no simple matter to reverse the effect and would require additional surgery.
Sleep in Lenses, See Clearly the Next Day
In the early forms of Ortho-K, vision was improved very gradually with a series of lenses worn during the day in an attempt to improve vision after removal of lenses. The big disadvantage of this older approach is that the treatment lenses and the retainer lenses had to be worn full-time during the day. Modern or advanced forms of Ortho-K allow for overnight treatment with good vision during the day. If you know how to sleep, you may be a candidate for Ortho-K.
People with Dry Eyes May Be Good Candidates for Ortho-K
Most patients with dry eyes are not the best candidates for contact lens wear, though there are some new contact lens materials that improve comfort for dry eye patients. People with dry eyes also face challenges with refractive surgery such as LASIK and PRK. Because Ortho-K involves sleeping in gas permeable lenses, and there is no lens wear during the day, patients with dry eyes are still good candidates for Ortho-K.
Ortho-K May Slow Down the Progression of Myopia
Emerging research is beginning to show that children that undergo Ortho-K treatment experience about 50% less gradual worsening of myopia than children wearing either conventional contact lenses or glasses. This research is being performed in several countries and while Ortho-K has been shown to reduce the worsening of myopia by around 50% on average in children, it still is not known which children will benefit the most from this treatment. Most of the studies suggest that there is greater myopia control for moderate to higher levels of initial myopia. To see if you are a candidate for Ortho-K for vision improvement or for myopia control or to see if you are a candidate for other methods of myopia control, call us today. A good short article by Dr. Walline from The Ohio State University can be found in Contact Lens Spectrum
Ortho-K May Have Some Unique Advantages After Age 40
People under age 40 often think there are no advantages to nearsightedness. Nearsightedness or myopia means in fact that the eyes focus near images better than far images. After age 40, presbyopia causes the eyes to have increasing difficulty focusing near images, thus the need for reading glasses and bifocals. Ortho-K has some potential benefits after age 40 in two different ways. As a reversible technique, it is possible to reverse the treatment a little bit to aid reading, it can be done in one eye or both, and it can be done gradually over the years as the eyes need more help to read. Ortho-K reshapes the cornea in a little bit variable way such that the cornea sometimes has bifocal properties, making near vision a little better than might be predicted when the distance vision is clear. This isn’t as easy to accomplish or predict, but it is a potentially nice feature of Ortho-K.