Ortho K Lens Side Effects: A Comprehensive Guide

Have you ever dreamed of correcting your vision without the need for surgery? Orthokeratology (Ortho-K) offers this remarkable possibility.

The concept is simple yet revolutionary—while you sleep, Ortho-K hard contact lenses gently reshape the front surface of your eye, the cornea, so that after you wake up and remove the lenses, you have clear vision for the rest of the day.

Think of them as like dental braces, but for your eyes, not your teeth!

As exciting as it might sound, it’s understandable to have concerns about safety and potential Ortho-K lens side effects. In this article, let’s directly address these concerns, ensuring you have a comprehensive view of what to expect.

But before we go further, let me introduce myself. I’m Dr. Nick Papadopoulos, leading the team at Optometrist Parramatta. With a special interest in Ortho-K lenses, I enjoy helping all of our patients towards achieving optimal vision. Since our practice was established in 1988, we’ve focused on delivering tailored and expert eye care solutions to the community.

At our practice I’ve seen firsthand the difference professional guidance makes. Myopia (elongation of the eyeball causing near-sightedness) is reaching epidemic proportions amongst younger generations in our modern, screen dominated world. This in turn leads many parents are worried about their children’s eyesight and long term eye health. Ortho-K can offer a clinically proven, non-surgical, non-invasive treatment with lifetime benefit from reduced myopia related risks.

So if you are looking for vision correction alternatives that don’t involve spectacles, daytime contact lenses or laser eye surgery, orthokeratology is something that I encourage you to investigate. Why not book an appointment at Optometrist Parramatta, either with myself or my colleague Dr Jotinder Khosla to discuss if Ortho-K is the right solution for you.


And if you’d just like to learn more about this revolutionary approach to better vision, keep reading!

Ortho K contact lens side effects.

Common Side Effects of Ortho-K Lenses

While orthokeratology offers a dramatically new approach to correcting vision overnight, it’s important for potential wearers to be aware of potential Ortho-K lens side effects, which, while generally mild and manageable, can impact the experience.

  • Temporary Discomfort: It’s not uncommon for new wearers to feel as though there’s something in their eye when they first begin using Ortho-K lenses. This sensation is part of the adjustment process as the eyes become accustomed to the lenses. If this happens, the best remedy is to take the lens out, give it a clean with saline solution and add a drop of artificial tear for a bit of extra lubrication.

  • Corneal Edema: This condition refers to the swelling of the cornea, typically caused by an insufficient oxygen supply to the eye or irritation from the lens itself. In our practice, we closely monitor any signs of corneal edema to ensure the continued health and comfort of your eyes. Proper lens material selection and fitting are key to minimizing this risk, ensuring that your eyes receive adequate oxygen throughout the night.

  • Corneal Staining: Tiny, distinct marks on the cornea can indicate damage or stress, often resulting from an improper lens fit or a lack of sufficient oxygen reaching the eye. When such signs are observed, it prompts an immediate assessment and adjustment of the lens fit. This proactive approach helps prevent further irritation and ensures the cornea remains healthy.

  • Lens Binding: Occasionally, a lens may adhere too tightly to the surface of the eye, challenging both movement and removal. Following proper lens care techniques are essential to preventing lens binding, ensuring that lenses can be easily and comfortably managed.

  • Blurred Vision: In the early stages of using Ortho-K lenses, some wearers might notice that their vision isn’t as sharp as expected. This side effect usually improves with continuous wear as the eyes adjust to the lenses.

  • Halos Around Lights: This can be particularly noticeable at night, where lights may appear to have glare around them. This can affect activities such as night driving or seeing in low-light conditions but typically lessens as the wearer’s eyes adapt to the lenses.

  • Fluctuating Vision: It’s normal for vision clarity to fluctuate throughout the initial adaptation period to Ortho-K lenses. This fluctuation gradually stabilizes as the cornea reshapes, resulting in consistent clear vision.

  • Eye Dryness: Changes in tear film stability caused by Ortho-K lenses can lead to sensations of dryness and discomfort. Frequent blinking can help maintain eye moisture, alleviating the discomfort associated with dry eyes. In severe cases, talk with your optometrist about using lubricating eye drops.

  • White Lesions or Epithelial Deposits: With long-term wear of Ortho-K lenses, some wearers have reported white lesions or epithelial deposits on the cornea. These conditions are associated with the duration of treatment. Regular eye examinations allow for early detection and management of these conditions.

  • Corneal Thinning: A decrease in corneal thickness can occur over time with Ortho-K treatment. This change is measurable and usually takes place over the first week. Continuous monitoring and adjustment of the treatment plan are important to ensure the cornea’s health and integrity.

In our practice, we take a comprehensive approach to managing these potential side effects. Through personalized fitting, regular monitoring, and patient education on proper lens care, we aim to provide a safe, comfortable, and effective Ortho-K lens experience for all our patients.

It’s worth emphasizing that Ortho-K lens side effects are minor and a temporary inconvenience, far outweighed by the benefits.


If you’d like to learn a little more about some of the common problems that Ortho-K lens wearers experience, watch the following video by Dr Thanh Mai.

Eye Infection Risks with Ortho-K

One critical aspect I always discuss with my patients is the risk of eye infections, specifically microbial keratitis. This type of condition is an inflammation of the cornea caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites. It can arise with any type of contact lens wear, including Ortho-K lenses, if proper care and hygiene practices are not followed. The symptoms can range from mild irritation to severe pain and vision impairment, underscoring the importance of awareness and preventative measures.

Improper lens cleaning, overwear, and poor hand hygiene can all contribute to the risk of developing microbial keratitis. In our practice, we emphasize the importance of thorough hand washing before handling lenses, using only recommended cleaning solutions, and adhering to the prescribed wear and replacement schedules.

Despite the concerns, it’s important to note that the overall risk of developing serious eye infections from Ortho-K lens wear is low. Recent findings indicate that the occurrence of microbial keratitis in children using orthokeratology lenses for overnight wear is even less frequent than earlier research implied, showing comparable rates to those found with daily soft contact lens use.


Safe Use of Ortho-K Lenses to Mitigate Side Effects

It’s vital to understand the dangers water in relation to all types of contact lenses. All water contains microorganisms, one of which is Acanthamoeba, a protozoan parasite that can cause a serious eye infection. This is why I stress to my patients: never rinse your Ortho-K lenses with tap water. An Acanthamoeba infection can be tough to treat and could lead to severe pain, vision loss, or even the need for a corneal transplant. It’s a risk that’s easily avoided with the proper use of saline or disinfecting solutions specifically designed for contact lenses. Even showering with contact lenses should be avoided.

Also, proper storage and maintenance of your Ortho-K lenses are just as important as the cleaning routine. Always use a clean, dry case for your lenses, and replace it regularly—about every three months or so. Fill the case with fresh disinfecting solution each time you store the lenses; never “top off” old solution. And, of course, keep the case itself clean and dry when not in use. These best practices help ensure your lenses are safe and ready to use each night, providing the clear, comfortable vision you’re seeking.

The key to minimizing side effects and risks with Ortho-K lenses lies in meticulous handling and care. By adhering to a consistent cleaning routine, avoiding tap water, and following storage and maintenance best practices, you can enjoy the benefits of Ortho-K lenses while keeping your eyes healthy and happy. It’s a small investment of time and effort that pays off in clear vision and peace of mind.

Professional Fitting and Monitoring

The right fit for Ortho-K lenses is more than just comfort; it’s about safety. At Optometrist Parramatta, I see how a well-fitted lens can prevent a host of issues, from irritation to more serious complications. It’s a delicate balance, ensuring the lenses reshape the cornea effectively overnight while maintaining the eye’s health. I always stress the importance of these regular examinations as they allow us to monitor the health of your eyes, the fit of your lenses, and the progress of your vision correction. It’s about catching any potential issues before they become problems and ensuring that your Ortho-K experience is as safe and effective as possible.

Children’s eyes in particularly are always growing, so your Ortho-K lenses may need periodic adjustments to maintain good vision. Myopia is a progressive condition that Ortho-K can slow down, but usually can’t completely stop.

Finally, you should always be aware of signs that things aren’t quite right with your eyes and require professional attention . If you experience symptoms like increased redness, sudden vision changes, discomfort, or irritation, it’s important to see your optometrist. These could be signs that your lenses aren’t fitting correctly anymore, or they might indicate an infection or another eye health issue.

When in doubt, reach out. It’s better to have a quick check-up and find out everything is fine than to wait and see if a potentially serious issue worsens.



We’ve covered a lot in this article, from the ins and outs of Ortho-K lenses, including what they are, how they work, and common concerns and Ortho-K lens side effects. It’s clear that while Ortho-K lenses offer a fantastic opportunity for those looking to correct their vision without daytime glasses or contacts, they require a commitment to proper use and regular eye care.

If you’re considering Ortho-K lenses or have any concerns about your eye health, I invite you to book an appointment with myself or Dr Jotinder Khosla at Optometrist Parramatta. Whether you’re curious about whether Ortho-K is right for you, or you have specific questions about your eye health, we’re here to provide the guidance and support you need.

To make an appointment, give us a call at 02 9891 2020 or click the “Book Online” button on our website.

Dr Nick Papadopoulos – Owner and Optometrist

B.Optom (UNSW), CertOcTher (ACO) Therapeutically Endorsed Optometrist

Member of the Cornea & Contact Lens Society of Australia & the Orthokeratology Society of Oceania