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We are very excited to provide orthokeratology, or ortho-k, as one of our specialty contact lens services. Thanks to advances in research and technology, many individuals are now able to see clearly throughout the day without wearing glasses or contact lenses. Ortho-k involves the wearing of rigid molds, similar to gas permeable contact lenses, while sleeping, to gently modify the very front surface of the eye. It is most appropriate for nearsighted (myopic) individuals with up to moderate amounts of astigmatism. However, it can also be effective for those who are mildly to moderately farsighted.

People of any age can benefit from ortho-k. Our real excitement about it, though, stems from its ability to significantly slow down the progression of myopia in children. Myopia usually tapers on its own by the later teens, but the more it can be checked during its period of most rapid development, the lower the final level will be. And, the lower the final level, the less inconvenience to deal with when not wearing correction, and more importantly, the lower the likelihood of a variety of eye diseases in later life. Myopia occurs when the eye grows and stretches. This leads to the nerve tissue at the back of the eye becoming thinner and more fragile which is what increases the risks.

Myopia is becoming more common world-wide. It’s estimated that ½ of the world’s population will be nearsighted by 2050. In some Asian countries, well over 80% of teens are nearsighted. In the U.S., myopia among those in their teens thru 50 increased significantly between the 1970s and 2010. While genetics plays some role, the environment has a big impact, too. Please check out our separate section on Ortho-K FAQs for more info. Or, just give us a call. We love to talk about this stuff!!

Ortho-k has been around for close to 50 years, but it’s begun to attract more serious attention over the past 10 to 15. One reason is newer materials allowing people to sleep with the molds, so they can go thru the whole day with less hassle. Another is technology permitting fine-tuned assessment of eye shape, as well as monitoring of mold position and their effect on eye shape, and computer controlled fabrication of the molds.

How does Ortho-K work?

The shape of the mold exerts a compressive force centrally and a pulling force off center to change the thickness of the very front surface of the eye (a tissue layer about ½ the thickness of a piece of paper). This flattens the front curvature allowing light to focus on the back of the eye. It also changes how more peripheral light focuses, and this is what is believed to send signals to the eye to slow down its growth, and hence, myopic progression.

For adults, it does the same thing to the front of the eye, but by adulthood, the eye has already stopped growing, so the myopia control effect is not relevant. Adults who may most benefit are those who experience dryness with contact lenses or are exposed to environments where contacts are less desirable.

Again, please check out our other Ortho-K and Myopia Management pages, or just give us a call (540-605-9537) if you’d like more info!


We’ll soon be “Eyes on Main”! And that’s not the only news... please offer a warm welcome to Dr. Mike Gowen.

From Dr. J:

I opened my office in 1990 – That’s 30 years coming up on August 1st!!   In some ways it feels like yesterday, and in others, like forever.  Along with so much else that has changed this year, one more occasion is on the horizon.  I am excited to announce that I am selling my practice to Dr. Mike Gowen.  Dr. G and his wife, SallyAnn, met at Virginia Tech close to 40 years ago. They have been proud and loud Hokies ever since and dreamed of returning to live in Blacksburg.  Both are strong supporters of the arts, athletics and the civic engagement that make this a very special place to live, work and play!

I am thrilled to be handing the baton to a doctor who believes as I do in community service. Plus, he is laser focused also on individualized patient care, personal and professional intellectual advancement and enjoying the good things and kind people who come along every day.

Better yet, I’m not going anywhere!  I will continue seeing patients, focusing on visual rehab for those suffering from concussions/TBI, working to control the progression and consequences of nearsightedness through orthokeratology and other treatments, and counseling all regarding the inter-relation of the eyes, brain and body, along with the importance of nutrition, exercise and mental well-being.  There’s so much I yet want to learn and do, and now I won’t have to worry about arguing with insurance companies.  I’m excited!

From Dr. G:

It’s impossible to express how pleased I am to be moving to Blacksburg. It has long been the dream of my wife and I to become a part of this unique town, where we met as Virginia Tech students and continued to frequent as alumni.    I look forward to the privilege of serving the people of Blacksburg and bringing my lifetime of experience in the field of eye care to serve one and all. I'm delighted that Dr. Steve Jacobs will remain with the practice, which will now be “EYES on Main.” I consider it a great privilege to continue the exemplary patient care and community service that Dr. Jacobs has and will continue to provide to the New River Valley. Together we will serve the Blacksburg community with the same culture of care and community involvement that has always been a part of this practice.

 More updates to follow.  Send us a message or give us a call with questions, comments, or to set up an appointment.

We can always be reached at 540-953-0136!

Sincerely,Dr. J, Dr. S, Dr. G & staff