Understanding LASIK and Monovision

One question we’re frequently asked is “Does LASIK correct for a person’s need for reading glasses?”

Have you ever heard of having one eye set to see distance and the other set to see near?  That’s called monovision or blended vision.

What Does Monovision Do?

Monovision reduces a person’s dependency on reading glasses for near-vision tasks like reading a book or working on a computer.  It’s quite popular with individuals older than 40 who would like to be less dependent on drugstore cheaters.

Maybe you have seen a person at the restaurant holding the menu at a distance so they can  read it!  Maybe you know someone who uses over-the-counter “cheaters” or maybe you are doing your best to keep track of yours!

Whether we wear glasses or contacts or not, we notice changes in our near-range vision as we get older.  It happens sooner for some than others, but it happens to everyone.

This change with our near vision is the effect of the birthday-related eye condition called presbyopia.

Understanding Presbyopia

Inside the eye and directly behind the iris (the colored part of the eye) is the natural lens. The natural lens controls what our eyes focus on.  The lens has muscles attached around it. When these muscles flex, the lens changes shape to focus.

When a person looks at something up close, the muscles flex the lens to see clearly. They relax when the eyes look at something at a distance.  Presbyopia is when the lens loses its flexibility.

Presbyopia’s Effects on Your Vision

Throughout life, the lens inside the eye undergoes natural changes. As a result of these changes, the natural lens loses its flexibility over time.  The eyes need the greatest amount of focusing power on small, detailed objects very close to the body. This is when people typically notice presbyopia’s effects.

Presbyopia progresses as the lens looses flexibility.  How presbyopia affects a person depends on factors like age and if they wear glasses or contacts.

For example, people who don’t wear glasses or contacts notice changes in their near vision somewhere in their 40s. By age 65, people are dependent on over-the-counter reading glasses to see anything within arm’s reach.

Nearsighted Individuals have a different experience as they go through their 40s.  If a person is nearsighted, their eyes see at close distances without glasses, but distance vision is blurry.  When these individuals notice the menu at the restaurant isn’t very clear, they will hold the menu away from them a bit to see it clearly.

This works for a while. But the “magic distance” continues to be further  away until that stops working.  When that stops working, these individuals will find that if they take their glasses off, they can see the menu (or other near-range object) clearly.

Of course, there are people who are more nearsighted than others. Those who are moderate to extremely nearsighted have to hold something very close to their eyes to see it clearly.  This isn’t always practical.  Patients who can take their glasses off to see clearly at a normal “reading distance” typically have an eyeglass prescription somewhere between -1.00D and -3.00D.

Presbyopia and Contact Lens Users

Nearsighted individuals who use contact lenses have a similar experience with their near vision changes as individuals who haven’t worn glasses or contact lenses.

They notice the same changes as the naturally well-sighted individual.  Somewhere in their mid 40s, the menu isn’t as clear as it was and ideal lighting is required, then the arms aren’t long enough to make the menu clear so they have to put on reading glasses to see it clearly, and then further down the road by 65 are dependent on reading glasses to see clearly anything within arm’s reach.

When a person wears contacts and experiences presbyopia, their regular eye doctor may recommend changing the power of one of their contact lenses.  If your eye doctor recommends this option, they are basically talking about monovision with contact lenses.

Is Monovision For You?

While talking about monovision is helpful in order to decide if it is a good option, experiencing  monovision is much more benneficial.  Your eye doctor can demonstrate it with a trial pair of contact lenses, and your eye doctor can show it to you in the office as well.  Patients who are over 40 and considering LASIK will hear about this option when they visit 20/20 Institute and the 20/20 Institute doctor will take the time to show them their options.

If you are considering monovision, a trial will be extremely helpful. You will get a good idea of what it looks like to see the world with one eye set for distance and the other set for near.  The vast majority of the time, the individual will quickly know if monovision is a good option for them.

Patients who like their vision with monovision contact lenses, but do not like having to wear the contact lenses can have LASIK performed purposed to replicate that visual setup with the biggest benefit of LASIK – not having to put the contact lenses in every day.

What To Expect From Monovision

There is always an adjustment period with monovision. That period differs from person to person, but usually is within a month or two to get fully adjusted.  As well, monovision is absolutely not “perfect” vision.  Unfortunately, there really is no “perfect” solution for distance and near vision for any person who is experiencing the effects of presbyopia.

The options are essentially limited to three options: 1) progressive lenses, 2) LASIK or contact lenses with reading glasses, or 3) LASIK or contact lenses with monovision.

Each option has its own set of plusses and minuses.  While the ideal scenario of ‘perfect vision’ is not realistic, what most people find is that one of these three options is the best for them and that helps them be happier with their vision.

Contact 20/20 For A Free Consultation

Your 20/20 Institute LASIK doctor is happy to help you along the way with this decision. Our doctors have cared for literally tens of thousands of patients considering LASIK instead of glasses or contact lenses.

Your 20/20 Institute LASIK Specialist is interested in one thing: helping you with your vision.   To set up your complimentary consultation and evaluation with our experienced and genuinely service-oriented staff members, call 303.202.0669.