What is CRT (Corneal Refractive Therapy)?
The practice of reshaping the cornea for improvement in vision has been prevalent since the 1940s. It is called orthokeratology and in the initial years the results of this therapy were not consistent. After many iterations of this therapy it is only in 2002 that CRT was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. Various companies were allowed to manufacture lenses that were used in this therapy.
Corneal refractive therapy uses a therapeutic lens for reshaping the cornea while you are asleep, resulting in an improvement in nearsightedness. This therapy, CRT in short, is for children or adults who have mild nearsightedness, or those who do not want to wear contacts or glasses, and for those who have no serious health issues pertaining to their eyes.
CRT lenses consist of material that has been designed with the application in mind that is, wearing the lenses to bed every night. After wearing it overnight, the cornea may be reshaped, and the light will be distributed correctly on the retina. During the daytime your vision will be clear as long as you're awake. In fact, in a period extending from 10 days to 2 weeks several people have reported that their vision has been brought back to normal due to this therapy.
Although CRT can reduce the dependence of person on glasses or contacts, it may not work in some cases. The eye specialist will also tell you that there is a risk while undergoing therapy, but the risk is the same as the risk with contacts. Also, the therapy is reversible in a period up to 72 hours so that the degree of risk is also reduced. There have been cases where people have been able to maintain clear vision for even two or three days without wearing their CRT lenses.
The good part about corneal refractive therapy is that there is no surgery needed. This means that there will be no recovery period and you will not have to take leave from work nor will there be any disruption in your schedule or personal life. Another advantage is that you will not have to wear glasses or contacts during the day. It is a boon for people who work in areas where there is a lot of dust and for the people who wear contact lenses and spend time outdoors for most of the day. Contacts, when worn outside can cause a lot of irritation in the eyes, or dryness which is very uncomfortable. Those who are active in sports will know how difficult it is to play while wearing contacts or glasses. Ladies will find applying make-up much easier because of the clear vision that they gain after corneal refractive therapy.
The lenses that are worn during this treatment are very flexible. You can start using them in case you will be out on travel for example, and it will not affect your eyes in anyway. This is different from surgery where you would've had to wear special lenses for a certain period of time without a break.
However, there are some side effects of this therapy. It is usually caused due to poor hygiene and also due to the use of tap water. In case the tap water that is used is clean then it will not make a difference. Sometimes wrong material is used in the manufacture of the special lens in which case the cornea might run short of oxygen when you wear it overnight for a long period of time. This is called corneal hypoxia and it is extremely important that the lens is made from oxygen permeable materials that will prevent hypoxia. People who have a large pupil usually suffer from it. This is also the reason why an approval is required by the US Food and Drug Administration for any lengths related to this therapy to be used for commercial purposes.
In fact, there are only very few contact lens designs that are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and manufactured by approved techniques. Some doctors have also been given permission to design lens shapes for use in corneal refractive therapy but keeping with the rules that have been laid out by the FDA.
With regards to how much corneal refractive therapy costs. It varies from patient to patient and provider to provider. Usually speaking though they are about the same as that of normal contact lenses and glasses.
If you have any more questions regarding CRT then please make them in the comments below and we will be sure to get back to you as soon as possible.