When we’re young and have normal vision our eyes are in perfect condition. They can focus up close on objects as close as their nose and they can instantly switch that focus to a far away object. This is known as accommodation.

Unfortunately, accommodation becomes, well, less accommodating as we get older. With every passing year that ability to switch focus from near to far or far to near decreases. This is due to the lenses in our eyes losing some of their elasticity. By the time we have our 40th birthday, most people need help to get their lenses to focus up close, such as when reading. Cue the ubiquitous “reader” eyeglasses at locations around the house, ever at the ready for reading a label, iPad screen, or other up close item.

But some people don’t like dealing with readers, so they opt for what is known as monovision. Monovision is a misnomer, really. It sounds as if the person opts for a single distance of focused vision. Instead, it is two distances, one for each eye.

What is monovision?

In monovision, one eye (usually the dominant eye) is corrected for clear distance vision, and the other eye is corrected for comfortable near vision. This allows a person to see close objects clearly with one eye and distance objects clearly with the other eye.

If you’ve never heard of this technique, you’re now thinking how dumb that sounds. What do you do, close your eye to see at distance and the other to see up close? Interestingly enough, your brain figures out having your two eyes focusing on vastly different distances. The vision part of the brain tends to filter out the image from the eye that is not in clear focus, paying attention to the eye that is in focus. Once your brain adjusts, people with monovision contact lenses, for instance, can see well enough both at distance and near to do things at any age without further correction.

How is monovision achieved?

Monovision can be done with contact lenses or with vision correction surgeries such as LASIK or PRK. Monovision formerly was the only option for cataract replacement lenses, but that has since changed with the development of multi-focus cataract intraocular lenses.

Limitations of monovision

Some people find that monovision 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.

At Central Valley Eye Medical Group, we have patients sometimes test to see if they like monovision. We’ll provide the contact lenses, one at distance in the dominant eye and one up close in the non-dominant eye, and the patient can wait until their eyes adjust and see how they like it. We find most patients really like it and prefer it to using reading glasses.

Is it time for your next eye exam? Call the team at Central Valley Eye Medical, (800) 244-9907, to make your appointment.

Posted in: Eye Conditions


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