Seeing clearly

A perk of being an optometrist’s daughter is that you get to test out revolutionary technology. As a self-proclaimed, passionate anti-glasses individual, I've looked far and wide for a solution, and orthokeratology (ortho-k) is the answer. What is ortho-k, you ask? Well, I go to sleep wearing rigid contact lenses, and the lenses reshape my cornea so that the next morning, I have 20/20 vision without any glasses or daytime contact lenses.

Cool, huh?

I love it — it lets me see independently, without any fear of breaking my glasses or losing a contact lens while playing sports.

But there is only one catch: sleep.

You see, last night I stayed up working on a 20–page research paper. It was extensive, exhausting and draining. I basically worked straight for 24 hours. My brain is exploding, still reeling from the effects of that paper. As a result of my all-nighter, I didn’t get to wear my ortho-k lenses.

You’re probably finding yourself in the same sleep-deprived situation right about now. It's that time of year, when somehow, the multitude of essays and exams which you knew about at the beginning of the term have piled up. You’re tired, Christmas Break seems too far away to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and you could really use a nap and some strong coffee.

Part of the wondrous experience of being a student, in my opinion, is the joy you get from taking pride in your own work. I’m fiercely independent; I dislike receiving assistance from other people because I like to be 100 per cent accountable and responsible for my mistakes and achievements. When I receive a grade, I can look at it, satisfied, and say it is a product of my hard work, without blaming anyone else for the areas that need improvement. While it sounds good on paper, there is a bit of a flaw with this thinking.

It is similar to not wearing ortho-k lenses all night, and then deciding the next morning that you will be perfectly fine without wearing your glasses for the rest of the day. In an attempt to see independently, you miss out on the fine the details of the view.

I find that a lot of students take this perspective at the end of the term — the assignments and deadlines seem so overwhelming and imposing that it becomes easier to just shut out the world than to listen to its helpful voices. What I am trying to say is, it's okay to wear your glasses. It's easy to think we have it under control, and harder to voice to say we need help.

Every student, even a very good student, can use some assistance. Sometimes it's a trained professional who'll look over your essay at the writing centre and give your work that extra boost. Other times, you need a counsellor to voice your concerns to, and to provide advice on how to deal with daily issues that can feel overwhelming. Perhaps you need a bit of guidance on how to tighten up your résumé, or sign up for a fitness class at Hart House to get your blood pumping?

What many students forget is that U of T has a wide range of resources to assist you. Many times throughout your student career, you'll need to talk a step back and remind yourself not to get swept up in the attempt to be superhuman. We all have our blind spots. If you can acknowledge and address those areas — whether you're a glasses, contact lenses or ortho-k kind of person — you'll be able to see clearly.

- Fariya

2 comments on “Seeing clearly

  1. Hi! I really like the blog you guys collaborate on – it’s a really helpful link to resources for real student life.
    a comment on ortho-k contacts (even though I know you are using it as a metaphor): it does have many limitations. It does not work permanently nor completely. Temporary because the improved eyesight does not last if you stop wearing the contacts, just like normal contacts. incomplete because it can only reliably improve eyesight by about -3.0 to -4.0, and sometimes not even that much. I know quite a few people who are about -5.0 or above, and still need to wear glasses during the day (just with a lower prescription).
    also, the effect varies from person to person – some will tell miracle stories, and some will testify near uselessness. my own experience with them has been moderate but rather lackluster compared to what my optometrist said they would do. after about 6 months of trial and error, the best result they could achieve was an improvement by about -2.5 during the day.
    It’s also very expensive, so one should do careful research and get professional opinions on their own situation before haphazardly trying it.
    that said, I’m glad it works for you, and I’m sure technology will improve in the coming years. 🙂

  2. Hi Linda,

    I appreciate your comment!

    I wanted to address some concerns you brought up in your comment. I’ve worn Ortho-K for the last 13 years and I thought, “hey, if I can impart my experience, then why not?” 🙂

    Orthokeratology is not mean’t to be a permanent solution to correcting myopia or astigmatism. There is NO permanent solution – not even Laser Vision Correction (contrary to the popular myth) and yes, you are right – the lenses are intended to be worn every night, as indicated by my blog post, or less depending on your eyesight (my mother has much better eye sight, she wears her lenses once every two or three nights rather than every night) otherwise the effect is reversible.

    Furthermore, while Orth0-K can be effective for people with up to -6.00 on their prescription, it is most successful for people with -4.00 or less. Sometimes people to have to wear glasses in spite of wearing Ortho-K lenses, but what they don’t realize is that the lenses have significantly helped treated their myopia (or nearsightedness). Many young children, (myself as an example), have very poor eye sight at a young age. Rather than allowing this to progress until there is no corrective solution, Ortho-K can help slow down the process significantly before it gets too serious, and temporarily, every day, rectify the problem.

    All of these points are well-known facts, and more importantly, are well-impressed upon patients by their Optometrist. If a patient leaves their Optometrist’s office expecting to be “cured” they are sorely mistaken, even for LASIK. Ortho-K does not claim to “cure” people’s eye sight, but has been successful in restoring people’s day-to-day sight to 20/20 vision.

    What makes Ortho-K a wonderful option is that any age can participate in the program. I started as early as age seven! Its a great option for young individuals who are not eligible candidate for LASIK, for people who work in dust, dirty environments or play sports/swim (which can cause problems for regular daytime contact lenses), or individuals who may need to enter a profession, such a policeman/woman or firefighter, where good eyesight is a requirement. Its also good for people who have dry eyes (a condition known to worsen with LASIK).

    Looking at Ortho-K alone makes it appear to be expensive, but I think it has to be looked at in perspective. It is much cheaper than LASIK and certainly much safer (and reversible if necessary). It provides a wonderful alternative to glasses and contact lenses which can undoubtedly add up significantly in cost, with a much more unpleasant result.

    One should definitely do research and most importantly, deal with a very qualified eye care professional. Talking to an Optometrist who has additional qualifications in Orthokeratology can be increasingly helpful. It means they can anticipate any problems, can help you through the initial stages of fitting the lenses (which may involve a bit of trial and error) and they have experience.

    The point of the Ortho-K in this post was really, solely for the analogy, and as compelling of an analogy as it was, it wasn’t the point of the post. 🙂

    Despite that, I loved your comment. If you are interested in discussing Ortho-K further, I recommend you check out this blog post,where you can voice your opinions, and get the experience and opinions of other individuals:

    Regards, and thanks for your comment! 🙂


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *