Shoot Out At The OK Corral

Back in 2002 we saw several huge and promising developments in corneal reshaping. The FDA approval of CRT,the promise of funding from the industry to generate consumer demand and the formation of Ortho-K organizations around the world. These were all auspicious events and led more than one observer of the proceedings to declare the coming era of prosperity for corneal reshaping had begun. Almost ten years later we realize that we may have been off a bit in our expectations. While we did see a positive change in the perception among our patients to Ortho-K we saw no such response from our colleagues. Indeed instead of embracing the challenge of learning how to integrate Ortho-K into their practices we saw instead that they adopted the Ophthalmology lead and began questioning how corneal reshaping could have passed FDA scrutiny. Instead of looking at all the new studies showing safety and efficacy of the procedure they quoted old risk factors generated by an unregulated industry in a part of the world catching up with modern medical practice. Rather than learning how to do the procedure correctly those that tried and failed blamed it on a technology that was overly complicated compared to the soft contacts they routinely fit. Excuses flowed even to the point of blaming the perceived lack of awareness of the lay public on the procedure itself instead of the doctors who failed to even present the alternative to their patients. It seems as though our profession is indeed in a face down relationship with guns blazing from both sides at the OK corral.

It is true that this state of affairs was not helped by the industry itself which failed to deliver the needed funding it had promised. As far as the Ortho-K organizations that were created only a few survive to this day but one of those our own academy has delivered beyond anyone's expectations! The OAA has grown at a twenty percent clip these last few years and presents great educational programs( Vision By Design) on a yearly basis. With the formation of the international group the OAA and her sister sections will have educational events around the world. The academy with it's landmark Bootcamp offers education for those not experienced with corneal reshaping. Member benefits include; the "google group" a forum to freely exchange info on fitting / lens design, Ortho-K booklets, patient brochures and DVDs in English are available with Spanish and Chinese soon to come. Fellowship and mentoring are also offered to all members who would like to further their Ortho-K development. The academy is a bright and shining symbol of what went right in corneal reshaping and stands as a symbol of success to the entire world.

Will the shootout at the OK corral see corneal reshaping finally live up to it's promise? I believe it will for several reasons. One reason will be our members who support and further our mission and allow us to invest in our collective futures. We can expect to see many more of you as we bring the corneal reshaping message to the Americas and the world bringing our goals closer to reality. Another positive influence will be the momentum we now see in the field of myopia prevention and corneal reshaping being one of the successful treatment models. In fact its the academies vision to see us adopt a comprehensive preventative care model and work with other organizations like COVD to accomplish this goal. The industry itself while not having enormous amounts of funds to spend has supported all of our efforts and spent what was available for maximum effect. With all these positive vibes flowing again it reminds me of that time ten years ago full of promise and hope. This time I believe we will succeed. See you in Orlando and make sure you keep your powder dry.

- Cary Herzberg OD FOAA