Monovision is a type of vision correction your doctor may suggest if you have difficulty seeing things nearby and far away. You may find that your near vision worsens in middle age.
This condition is known as presbyopia. If you’re already nearsighted, this aging of the eye will create the need to correct two types of vision.
Monovision corrects each eye with a different prescription so one sees distances and the other sees close objects. Monovision may work for some people but not all.
Your doctor can discuss your needs and decide if this is a vision correction method worth trying.
With monovision, you’ll choose a method to help each individual eye see a different distance. Your doctor will likely determine your dominant eye and correct it to see objects far away.
Your dominant eye is the eye that sees slightly better, and that you’d prefer if you could only do something with one eye. Your secondary eye will be corrected to see nearby objects, such as words on a page.
Your two eyes will work together to create a differential blur. Your brain will begin to process this visual set up normally when you get used to this correction. It will block out the blurrier objects and focus on the clearer ones.
If you’re a good candidate for monovision, the process will be so subtle your vision will appear smooth if you have both eyes open.
It’s possible that your eyes develop monovision naturally. One eye may have the ability to see far away better while the other eye is more attuned to nearby objects. This naturally occurring monovision may help you avoid vision correction as you age.
Approximately 9.6 million people in the United States use monovision to correct both their distance and close-up vision. About 123 million Americans have presbyopia.
Around half of those using monovision rely on contact lenses. The other half have undergone surgery to create the effect. Surgical options for monovision include laser surgeries and intraocular lens insertion.
Contacts are the least invasive way to try monovision. You may opt to use contacts for monovision in the long term, or you may use them to try out the effect of monovision to determine if you’d like to undergo surgical correction.
There are many varieties of contacts. Your doctor can decide the type that works best for your eyes and lifestyle and provide each eye with a different lens. One will help your distance vision and the other one will be for close-up objects.
You may find that monovision contact lenses don’t work well for you. There are bifocal contact lenses that also correct nearsightedness and farsightedness. These lenses contain two types of vision correction in a single lens.
Your doctor may even suggest you try a bifocal contact in one eye and a single-distance contact lens in the other to see both ranges clearly.
It’s not common to have monovision glasses. Instead, more popular types of multi-distance glasses include bifocals, trifocals, and progressive lenses.
These lenses contain multiple prescriptions for vision correction. Bifocals and trifocals feature a line that separates the different prescriptions on the lens, whereas progressive lenses blend the types of correction on a lens.
LASIK is a type of eye surgery that can correct your vision for both near and far distances. During this procedure, a surgeon cuts a flap in your cornea and then uses a laser to adjust its shape.
The surgeon adjusts the cornea in your nondominant eye to see up close and the cornea in your dominant eye to see far away.
You shouldn’t undergo LASIK surgery for monovision without talking about your options with an eye doctor. Your doctor will determine whether you’re a good candidate for LASIK based on your current vision, your lifestyle, and the stability of your vision.
For example, your doctor may discourage you from monovision LASIK if you work with your hands regularly or read avidly, either as a hobby or for your job, because it may not be effective enough for your needs.
Your doctor may suggest trying monovision contact lenses prior to undergoing LASIK to see whether you can adjust to this type of vision correction.
Cataracts occur when the natural lens in your eye becomes cloudy. This generally happens over time as you age. Your doctor may recommend cataract surgery when your natural lenses become too blurry to see well.
This procedure involves the replacement of your natural lens with a synthetic one, called an intraocular lens (IOL). An IOL will not only be clearer, but it can also correct your vision.
There are several types of IOLs available. Some lenses are just set for one type of vision correction. These would be used for monovision, with a lens for distance in your dominant eye and a lens for close-up objects in your nondominant eye.
Other types of IOLs may remove the need for the monovision approach as they can correct far, intermediate, and near vision in a single lens.
You may discover that monovision correction doesn’t work for your needs.
One researcher discovered that only
Those who seek surgical monovision corrections may find themselves getting another surgery if they don’t like the outcome of the procedure. Additionally, your vision may change over time after you have LASIK and you may not be able to have the procedure again.
You may experience side effects following eye surgery, including:
Some other compromises of monovision include:
- poor depth perception
- visual strain
- blurred vision at night, especially while driving
- difficulty seeing intermediate distances like computer and tablet screens
- the need to wear glasses for intense close-up work
You may find that your eyes adjust right away to monovision correction, or you may have difficulty with this new way of seeing the world. Here are a few tips to help you adjust:
- Continue with your normal activities.
- Give yourself a few weeks to adjust to your new vision correction.
- Try wearing glasses to help correct intermediate or close-up vision if necessary.
- Wear monofocal contacts before you decide on a permanent correction.
- Talk to your doctor if you notice blurriness or have trouble with depth perception.
You may be fed up with bifocals, newly diagnosed with nearsightedness and farsightedness, or curious about vision correction options. Talk to your doctor about monovision as well as other correction options to determine what’s best for you.
Your doctor will ask about your lifestyle as well as perform an eye examination before presenting options.
Monovision may be an option if you need vision correction for both near and far distances. Monovision corrects your dominant eye to see far distances and your nondominant eye to see close-up ones.
Your eyes and brain adjust to this correction to see objects clearly, regardless of their distance. You may find that you still need to wear glasses for intermediate vision or when using your close-up vision for a long time.
Talk to your doctor to decide if monovision is right for your lifestyle.