What is monovision? Monovision is an option often used when patients start to develop presbyopia, a condition causing difficulty reading small print or seeing near objects. Presbyopia starts to become evident in most people between 38 to 48 and worsens with age. To address presbyopia, the doctor may prescribe glasses with bifocal or progressive lenses or some may use reading glasses to help see up close. Contact lenses can also be prescribed with bifocals or in monovision. Monovision is a method used to work around this aging process of the eyes maintaining good distance vision in one eye and allowing the other eye to perform the near tasks. Monovision can, and often is, performed with LASIK!
Monovision with LASIK often sounds strange, however most people adapt to it easily. With careful testing and demonstration, the doctor can educate and demonstrate the effect to the patient and determine their tolerance. Often a person won’t even notice which eye is their “distance eye” and which is their “near eye” when both eyes are open. Although it can take a few weeks to a few months to adjust, many patients are happy with their monovision results, as it reduces the dependency on their reading glasses.
This type of procedure is not for everyone, some patients needing “perfect” distance or near vision would possibly not be a candidate. The downside of monovision is that some people find it compromises the clarity of their distance vision too much, making distant objects appear slightly blurred. Others find monovision doesn’t provide adequate near vision to give them the freedom from reading glasses they were hoping for. Expectations are important. The eyes working together are always better for any specific task, the “two eyes are better than one” idea. It is important to understand that as we age, our needs are different depending on the working distance. This can even be evident comparing the needs at computer distance to closer reading distance. With monovision we are forced to choose the most important working distance to plan for the power of our near eye. The goal for monovision is to decrease your dependency on glasses as a whole allowing visual freedom for the majority of activities. Supplementation of vision correction with glasses or contacts can always improve vision at more critical vision activities.