What is Monovision?

As we age, our vision and focusing abilities decrease. This naturally occurring condition is a consequence of aging and is called presbyopia. Presbyopia occurs when the eye’s lens becomes less flexible, reducing its ability to easily adjust to a near focus.

Monovision surgery is an option for individuals with vision difficulties or who have been diagnosed with cataracts.

Monovision Surgical Procedures

People can obtain monovision with contact lenses, LASIK surgery, or lens implants. With monovision, one eye remains focused at a distance while the other is focused for near. Each eye is working constantly and eventually, the brain adapts and learns to choose the better image from either eye.

People considering monovision should try out monovision with contact lenses for a week or two before committing to a surgical procedure. LASIK and intraocular implant surgeries are both available for monovision.

Prior to either procedure, a doctor will examine your eyes to make sure they are healthy enough to undergo surgery. If necessary, further testing and measurements may be done to understand your prescription.

Monovision LASIK

LASIK is a type of refractive surgery that uses lasers to reshape the cornea. LASIK surgery does not fix presbyopia, but it can help people function independently of the need for glasses.

LASIK surgery only requires numbing drops to be applied to the eyes. After your eyes are numbed, a laser will create a circular flap on top of the cornea. Another laser then reshapes the cornea. The flap is put back in place and the eye heals over the period of a couple of days, eventually allowing light to be focused accurately. The entire procedure takes about 15-20 minutes for both eyes.

Monovision with Cataract Surgery

Another surgical monovision procedure uses implants, a popular option for patients with cataracts.

Small incisions are made, and the natural, aging lens of the eye is removed. An intraocular lens implant made of silicone or acrylic is then inserted which will fully treat one eye for distance. The other eye will then be corrected with an implant for near vision. Cataract surgery usually only takes 10-12 minutes and is minimally painful, only requiring topical anesthetic.

Monovision Recovery

Both LASIK and cataract surgeries are outpatient procedures. Blurry vision and minimal irritation can be expected but is very temporary. Usually, patients can return to normal activities after a day or two of rest. Because the brain has to learn to adapt to the new vision changes, it may take several weeks or months for the full effects to be obtained.

Undergoing a monovision procedure may compromise vision sharpness, but it gives people the ability to read and scan items without corrective eyewear. Both of these surgeries do not require maintenance and have high success rates. Someone considering monovision must have reasonable expectations and understand that one eye will see more clearly for the distance and the other eye more clearly for near, and perhaps with both eyes together may not be as clear as with traditional glasses, so there is some compromise involved. However, with both eyes open, most people who have adapted well to monovision can’t even tell which eye is for distance and which is for near.

Eligible for Monovision?

Each eye will differ, so monovision may not be appropriate for:

  • People who play sports like tennis or baseball, which require both eyes to focus at the same distance
  • Certain occupations that entail reading a lot of fine print or doing a lot of computer work

Monovision is a practical answer for:

  • Patients over 40 who are experiencing vision problems related to cataracts
  • Patients over 40 who have presbyopia

Either one of these procedures will reduce your dependency on corrective glasses.

For patients who have tried monovision with contact lenses in the past, it is usually quite easy to identify that they would be good candidates for monovision with cataract surgery. However, in those patients who have not tried it before with contact lenses, a short-term trial with contact lenses is a good way for patients to test drive monovision by mimicking what their vision would be like after cataract surgery.

It’s the right time for clearer vision

One of our physicians can determine if this corrective technique is right for you. Come to one of our six convenient Atlanta-area locations.

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