The beholder

What alternatives exist to correct eyesight?

Correcting eyesight (illustrative) (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Correcting eyesight (illustrative)
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
I am 24 years old and was thinking of undergoing Lasik surgery so I can get rid of my glasses.At an optician’s store, I saw, hanging on the wall, an ad for Ortho K, a way to supposedly ‘repair’ eyesight using a hard lens while asleep, and then removing it in the morning. The lens apparently ‘reshapes’ the eye at night and improves vision quickly, and it is reversible when not used.I would like to know if the lens actually works, if it is safe – for any age and any vision problem – and how much it costs.           V.T., Jerusalem
Dr. David Varssano, director of the cornea and external disease service at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, replies: Ortho K lenses do work, and they can reduce two to four diopters of nearsightedness in most people. They have been used for many years.
There are safety issues with these lenses, with some users developing microbial corneal ulcers and eventually losing their vision irreversibly due to scars in the line of vision. So one has to be very careful of rare complications.
Actually the only method of improving nearsightedness with no risk is wearing glasses. Any other method, including surgery like Lasik or any kind of contact lenses, has potentially devastating – although uncommon – complications.
Since I elected not to fit Ortho K lenses for my patients, I do not know how much they cost.
I am a 33-year-old computer science graduate working at a hi-tech company. I also have three young children, who are cared for mostly by my wife. I work very long hours and get only about five or six hours of sleep during the week. I am modern Orthodox, so fortunately I don’t take my job home over the weekends. I try to sleep more on Shabbat.
I know that sleeping more would improve my health. Exactly what health dangers does inadequate sleep pose? Can the extra hours of sleep I get on Shabbat make up for my minimal sleep during the week? Can you recommend any ways for me to make up for my minimal sleep?                         A.R., Herzliya
Prof. Giora Pillar, a veteran sleep expert at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology’s Rappaport Medical Faculty, and the sleep clinic at Carmel Medical Center, answers: Five or six hours of sleep per weeknight is not enough, even at your age. Numerous clinical studies have shown that inadequate sleep can pose many dangers to health, both physical and mental. It can reduce memory and concentration; impair attention, alertness, reasoning and problem solving; reduce cognitive skills; impair judgment and more. From the physical point of view, sleep deprivation can cause insulin resistance, leading to diabetes, as well as raise blood pressure and triple the risk that coronary arteries become hardened. It can impair immune function, resulting in infections and risk of cancer. Sleep loss and poor-quality sleep can lead to work accidents and injuries, as well as traffic accidents due to sleepiness during the day.
It is unclear whether sleeping more on weekends will help. Maybe it will, but it is not a recommended regimen. Because most studies on whether one can make up a long-term sleep debt have included people only over a few nights or weeks, the long-term effects are not known.
Although some people need less sleep than others, seven is regarded as the minimum in the long term. If you sleep for five hours during a weekday, you are in a two-hour deficit at least, times six days, which is 12 hours. But I doubt if you will sleep 12 extra hours on Shabbat beyond the minimum of seven you should sleep per day.
You should speak to your employer and find ways for you to work less, as too little sleep can harm your performance at work.
Rx for Readers welcomes queries from readers about medical problems. Experts will answer those we find most interesting. Write Rx for Readers, The Jerusalem Post, POB 81, Jerusalem 9100002, fax your question to Judy Siegel-Itzkovich at (02) 538- 9527, or email it to, giving your initials, age and place of residence.