Can I wear glasses with Monovision?
MAR 02, 2016
I have just had cataract surgery in my right eye and my vision was corrected to allow me to read without glasses. I asked my ophthalmologist about cataract surgery on the left eye to correct for distance, but he is reluctant to recommend that because some people have adjustment problems. I am content to wear glasses all the time, but he said with monovision you don't wear glasses. My question is: couldn't I still wear glasses to correct each eye for all distances, and only rely on the monovision in a pinch?
Monovision is the planned imbalance of the glasses need of each eye, such that one eye is focused for distance and the other for near. It is sort of like wearing a high heeled shoe on one foot and a flat on the other.
Monovision, in the best case, can make eyeglasses unnecessary. As you can imagine, if the high heel shoe is too high, you would be unable to function. Similarly, if the difference between the two eyes is too great, the patient will have double vision.
There is a popular variation of monovision called mini-monovision whereby the difference between the two eyes is made so as to protect distance vision in one eye and also provide limited near vision in the other eye, as in using a computer, but not necessarily reading a book or newspaper. Eyeglasses can be prescribed to wear over monovision or mini-monovision to eliminate the imbalance between the two eyes. It is very important to note that you already have one eye set for near vision. That means that your unoperated left eye must be focused carefully based on the focus of the right eye so as to insure comfortable vision for you.
There is another concern. Right handed people usually (but not always) have a dominant right eye and vice versa. Vision imbalance works out best when the dominant eye is focused for distance and the non-dominant eye for near. The best news is that your monovision or mini-monovision result can be tested in advance with a contact lens test drive. Your doctor can place a soft contact lens in your left eye to demonstrate what your vision would be like with one or more different power lens selections. You must keep in mind that predicting the focusing power of an eye after cataract surgery is pretty accurate, but there is no way to guarantee your eyeglasses need after cataract surgery. This means that your ophthalmologist is going to want to leave a little room for error after the surgery.
I advise that you discuss this carefully with your ophthalmologist and request a contact lens test drive of your options: 1) both eyes for near and you wear distance glasses, 2) Monovision with distance vision in the left eye and wear glasses as needed, 3) mini-monovision with the left eye for improved but less than perfect distance vision and wear glasses as needed.