George Jessen created what was probably the first orthokeratology design in the 1960s made from PMMA material, which he marketed as "Orthofocus". These early designs had generally unpredictable results, leading to the belief that applied orthokeratology was more art or luck than science.
Not until new measuring instruments and computers were available was it possible to apply the theory to create designs with repeatable results.
Many groups and individuals claim to have been the first to develop modern orthokeratology solutions. But Dr. Richard Wlodyga, in particular, is generally credited with developing the first reverse zone lens design in the 1980s.
In the summer of 2000; at an educational meeting of Optometrists in Toronto, the Orthokeratology Academy of America was formed to support, promote and advance orthokeratology. By providing quality education and scientific information on the subject of ortho-k to all interested practitioners, the OAA provides an unbiased forum for the free exchange of ideas and concepts relating to all aspects of orthokeratology. Its membership has the opportunity to advance their role in the field by applying for and passing comprehensive exams in order to achieve Fellowship status in the Academy.
A significant milestone for the American market occurred in June 2002 when the FDA granted approval for overnight wear of a type of corneal reshaping called "Corneal Refractive Therapy" (CRT). This forms the basis of the "Paragon CRT" product backed by Paragon Vision Sciences Inc.
In 2004 some media said that, the FDA approved a number of ortho-k designs for overnight wear, including designs from Contex ("Contex OK-E"), Euclid Systems ("Emerald"), and C&E GP Specialists ("Fargo"). Each FDA approval has a PMA number. The PMA number of FDA approval for Paragon CRT is P870024; the PMA number of FDA approval for Euclid products is P010062. So far FDA database shows no PMA number for C&E Specialists FARGO.
2005 saw additional FDA approvals, as manufacturers raced to bring orthokeratology to American consumers. However, nightwear ortho-k solutions were available to consumers in many countries outside the US much earlier as a result of different regulatory controls and bodies.
In 2005, Bausch & Lomb introduced the "Vision Shaping Treatment" (VST) program to collectively market a number of ortho-k products, using the "Boston" name.
In 2006 and 2007 papers presented at the British Contact Lens Association and the Global Ortho Keratology Symposium indicated the possibility of orthokeratology slowing or stopping myopic progression. This was found to be effective in children in Hong Kong and is the subject of wider study to verify this data.
Paragon Vision Sciences manufactures a lens trademarked "Paragon CRT" (Paragon Corneal Refractive Therapy) and marketed as "Accelerated Orthokeratology" (AOK). Bausch & Lomb's "Vision Shaping Treatment" offers the choice of four approved designs that may only be fit by certified practitioners. The four designs in the VST portfolio include (alphabetically)
Only a few other brands of ortho-k lenses have been approved by the FDA for overnight wear. Currently no other studies are underway for any other lens designs. Doctors may also design their own lenses based on experience and the principles behind Ortho-K. Wave, Orthotool and other software can help in this custom construction.