Monovision

What you Need to Know if You’re considering Monovision or Lasik

MonovisionMonovision reviews on the internet are difficult to find. If you’re past age 30 and using a glasses,   contact prescription or considering Lasik eye surgery, it’s time to learn a little bit about the philosophy and consider whether or not it might be a good strategy to address your reading and distance vision simultaneously. I had Lasik surgery 11 years ago and thought it would be worthwhile to share my own experience; satisfactions, dissatisfaction, pros and cons of monovision. Consider this the complete review from one who has been using it for 11 years. While monovision is most often associated with Lasik, it is important to understand that one doesn’t need lasik nor any other type of eye surgery to use it. Before I begin with my review, a more complete definition is in order.

What is Monovision?

Monovision is a vision correction strategy for making it easier to read as we get older. After age 40, our distance vision and near reading vision seemingly become at odds with each other. It becomes more difficult for us to read due to a natural vision phenomenon known as presbyopia.  After age 40, the lenses in our eyes become more rigid, less flexible and we find ourselves having to hold books and other text documents farther away from our eyes to read the text. The small print on prescription bottles is particularly difficult to read. Those of us who are Myopic (nearsighted) can often correct the presbyopia (near vision) problem simply by removing our reading glasses. When we remove our reading glasses, our near sighted eyes which are not suitable for distance, tend to do a much better job at reading words and things that are near. Monovision is a method in which the optometrist corrects one eye for distance vision and leaves one eye under-corrected for reading vision. This can be accomplished through a glasses or contact prescription with different strength contact lenses or with Lasik corrective eye surgery. Depending on the degree of your myopia, your doctor may even be able to leave your reading eye completely uncorrected. In my case, I was so nearsighted that I required distance vision correction in both eyes. I was 39 years old at the time and didn’t want to mess with reading glasses in the near future, so I took my eye doctor’s recommendation and deliberately had my left eye under-corrected for reading. My right is my dominant eye. There is a very simple strategy for determining which eye is for distance and which is for reading: With both eyes open, point at a small object about 20 – 30 feet away from you. Close your right eye, then close your left eye while leaving your finger pointed at the object. Did your finger appear to move more with your left eye closed or right eye closed?  Whichever eye caused the appearance of your finger to move less or not at all is your dominant eye. My dominant eye is my right eye. Since I use my right eye for vision, my optometrists corrected this one for 20/20 vision and deliberately under-corrected my left eye for reading vision. This is the theory behind monivison. Theory is one thing; how well has this worked out over the last 11 years?

Does Lasik Monovision Really Work?

Yes, it really does work. It took me a few Lasik follow up appointments to get both eyes properly adjusted. Here is one important drawback: It is more difficult to get a successful eye surgery when both eyes have different vision goals. My vision in both eyes was finally where it needed to be after my third visit. My right dominant eye was 20/20 for distance and my left eye was probably somewhere around 20/80 or 20/100 for near vision. Reading books, one dominant and one reading-eye takes some getting used to. The first thing I had to learn was to not close my right eye while reading. Let the left eye do its job. For reading books and fine print, my reading eye has been a huge success. For seeing things in the distance like road signs, shapes, figures, trees and other details, the monovision has worked out just fine for the past 11 years. Other friends and family members my age or older who had lasik corrective eye surgery without monovision, immediately began complaining about their reading vision and had to where reading glasses. I was feeling pretty good about my choice to try monovision. Is it perfect? Well, not so fast.

What are the Problems with Monovision?

Screen vision has been my biggest problem.  We read books from a different distance than we read our television and computer screens. Unfortunately, I spend most of the hours of my days at the office looking at a computer screen. The monovision just doesn’t quite cut it. I can read hard copy text just fine, but the computer screen is just far enough away that I really have to strain with my left eye to see it. I’m often straining my neck when using a computer. The same is true for televisions. Reading the text on a television screen can be difficult. The other drawback is that my vision declines in dimly lit, dark rooms. I’ve had a difficult time seeing as well as I’d like to at dusk. Light and lots of light has been the biggest friend to my monovision. Problems aside, would it all over again if I had to?

Conclusions

I don’t regret the Lasik Eye surgery one bit. It’s been great getting out of bed in the mornings and having perfect vision without putting on a pair of thick-lensed glasses. I’ve also loved being able to have perfect reading vision without the use of reading glasses or straining my eyes. If I <i>might</i> have any doubts at all, it’s that I went with lasik monovision, rather than having both eyes corrected for distance. Like my non-monovision friends and relatives who had Lasik, I’ve had to cope with my computer and night vision using glasses and/or a contact lens in my left eye. On the other hand, for 11 years I’ve been able to read anything without the use of glasses; I’ve just had to strain a little extra hard with the computer and TV screens. If I hadn’t chosen the monovision, I would be forced to put on a pair of reading glasses to read any and everything. Monovision probably works better for some then for others. The trick is to have your reading eye adjusted for distance just well enough to read those computer and TV screens, but not so much that you’re unable to read those close-up books, manuals and instructions on bottles. If you are going to have Lasik, there is a very simple way to give this tecnhique a try before having expensive surgery. Have your optometrist give you a contact lens prescription for monovision. Don’t be too fast to judge. It may take a couple of weeks for you to get used to using both eyes for different purposes. After 11 years, my conclusion is that monovision was the right choice for me for a couple of reasons:

Pros and Cons of Monovision vs Regular Lasik Surgery

I was given a pair of vision glasses by my eye doctor which corrected my vision to 20/20 in both eyes for the sake of better driving vision at night. Using these glasses, I’ve been able to compare what it would be like had I not gone with regular lasik vs. monovision lasik. The difficulty seeing computer screens with my reading eye pales in comparison to how difficult it is to read a book or text with the glasses on. Reading computer screens with glasses on is of no benefit at all over monovision, though it does help a tad with television screens at a distance. Lasik, without monovision, would make it necessary to carry reading glasses along with me at all times. With Monovision Lasik, I can get by without glasses at all, even if reading the computer or television screen is not ideal. Below, is my perception on how Regular Lasik compares to Monovision Lasik.  Monovision Lasik can save you money by eliminating the need for corrective surgery in both eyes or allowing you to buy contact lenses for just one eye instead of two.

While there are advantages to having 20/20 vision in both eyes, my conclusion is that this is still a better way to experience the benefits and convenience of improved vision.

Ratings

monovision lasik vs regular lasik

5 thoughts on “Monovision

  1. Very interesting! A couple of years ago, my eye doctor had suggested monovision as an option, but I was skeptical. I had RK surgery 27 years ago, so Lasik is not a good option for me at this time. Over the years, I have become extremely farsighted (apparently, this is very common in people who’ve had RK surgery). When I asked my doctor about Lasik, she said that because of my past surgery, my cornea would fall apart like a sliced pizza. That didn’t sound very fun, so I opted for contact lenses. Once I was fitted for the new lenses, I found that my left eye is twice as bad as my right eye (+4.75 and +2.50, respectively). I should be able to test your review by wearing two left eyed contacts instead of a left and a right. I’ll try and get back to you!

    • Yes, Becky.

      That would probably put your eyes right in the range where you need them to be to read out of your left eye and still see well for distance with your right. It’s kind of tricky, so you might want to have your doctor measure where your perfect reading vision is. Don’t mess with that cornea. I love Pizza just not for eyeballs. However, if your doctor’s analogy happened to make you hungry for pizza, see my review on Anthony’s Pizza.

      Thanks for writing,

      Rob

  2. I had monovision lasik about 2 weeks ago. I wore bifocals before the surgery. They fixed my right eye for distance and my left for reading. I can read my computer screen perfectly and small text but my distance is terrible. Halos are going away but can hardly see a road sign until I am right on top of it. I am hoping for improvement. It seems I can see fairly well close with my right eye which makes no sense. When I shut my left eye I can see the computer perfectly with my right eye but closing my right my vision is blurred with the left. I know I am not supposed to close one eye ever so my brain will adapt. I am pretty nervous…I drive a lot at night and its very hard. I had epi lasik so I am hoping I just need more time.

    • Hi, Greg.

      I doubt you have anything to be nervous about. I had to go back two times before my distance vision was adjusted properly with my right eye. Chances are, you will have to go back and have your distance eye adjusted again.
      Meanwhile, your doctor will get you some prescription eye glasses for driving and other things which require serious distance viewing. Monovision is well worth it – just be patient. I was told that sometimes it is more difficult to get it right on the first procedure.

  3. Had mono Lasik in 2001…..best decision ever. Didn’t think so at the time, however. Had to have it adjusted a couple of times even though I had worn monovision contacts for many years before surgery. I am just recently noticing that my reading vision is not as acute as it was. Not sure about returning for tweaking or just resorting to a pair of drugstore readers. At any rate, I highly recommend the procedure. Given the right Doctor, it is life-changing.

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