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Monovision LASIK: Benefits, the Procedure & Who Is a Candidate?

Monovision LASIK is a special vision corrective procedure that helps to reduce or end the need for reading glasses. It works by correcting the vision in each eye differently. One eye is corrected for distance vision and the other is corrected for near vision. 

It may take the brain a little time to adjust to this new input and way of seeing. Patients report high satisfaction with the procedure.

What Does Monovision LASIK Treat?

Almost everyone over the age of 40 or 50 struggles with the effect of aging eyes. The condition is called presbyopia, from the Greek word for “aging eyes.” In this condition, it is hard to focus clearly on close objects.

Monovision LASIK aims to treat presbyopia with a vision correction procedure. In most people, one eye is naturally dominant and the one that sees more clearly. With monovision LASIK, this eye is corrected for distance vision. The other eye is corrected for close vision. 

Together, your eyes will be able to see clearly at different distances, reducing your dependence on prescription eyewear. While it sounds a little complex, most people find that they can see clearly with both eyes open and may not even notice which eye is better suited for distance or near vision.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, some people find it difficult to adapt to this change. For this reason, ophthalmologists may recommend trying out contact lenses first before committing to a permanent procedure. 

Monovision LASIK vs. Standard LASIK

Both standard and monovision LASIK can help patients eliminate or reduce their need for glasses or contacts. 

With monovision, one eye is set for distance focus, while the other eye is set for close focus. This enables patients to see a blended picture, where both eyes work together to create one clear image. 

With standard LASIK, both eyes are corrected to achieve clear vision. Even after traditional LASIK, some patients will eventually need reading glasses, bifocals, or driving glasses to accommodate natural changes in vision due to aging.

In both cases, a special laser is used to reshape the cornea and achieve the desired vision correction. 

While monovision is not an ideal solution for everyone, it offers some people the possibility of a lifestyle with a clear vision without dependence on prescription eyewear.

Benefits of Monovision LASIK

Many people who have presbyopia complain about needing reading glasses or a magnifying glass to read menus and fine print. They also may need to wear glasses or sports goggles while participating in sports.

Monovision LASIK enables patients to see objects clearly, whether they are near or far. It reduces dependence on prescription eyewear. The procedure is relatively quick, and it does not have a long recovery period.

Side Effects

Just as there are with standard LASIK, there are potential drawbacks to monovision LASIK.

Some patients may lose a degree of depth perception following the procedure.

For some individuals, adapting to this form of sight may be awkward or challenging. Some people find that seeing differently in each eye feels strange, and it requires a period of adaptation. This may feel odd, irritating, or distracting. 

Other patients may still need to use glasses for certain activities, such as driving or reading. For people who expected to have perfect vision without ever needing glasses, this can be frustrating.

One study reported that people who received monovision LASIK reported a high patient satisfaction rate, although some experienced increased difficulty with nighttime driving. 

Monovision LASIK side effects include the following:

  • Visual strain or fatigue from fine work
  • Blurred vision while reading
  • Blurriness when doing computer tasks
  • Difficulty with nighttime driving

To address these various issues, different glasses may be prescribed, such as reading glasses or driving glasses.

Who Is a Candidate for Monovision LASIK?

People who are good candidates for standard LASIK but want to treat presbyopia are good candidates for monovision LASIK. 

Ideally, candidates for LASIK are adults over 21 years old, in good health, and not pregnant. Their vision should be relatively stable with no major prescription changes in the past year or so. Since most people with presbyopia are over 40 years old, most people who get monovision LASIK are older than this. 

Typically, ophthalmologists prefer to have individuals use monovision contact lenses or glasses before opting for monovision LASIK. By trying out the experience with contacts, each person can assess the impact without having surgery. This enables people to try out the visual experience and see if it is a good fit for their personal preferences and lifestyle. 

Recovery Time

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, LASIK recovery is relatively quick. Many people can resume normal activities the next day or within a couple of days. 

Some people notice mild discomfort, such as dry eyes, nighttime glare, and minor irritation in the weeks following the procedure. If there are no complications, the American Academy of Ophthalmology notes that complete recovery time (the time for vision to fully stabilize) should not be more than six months.

During this time, be sure to go to scheduled exams, rest, and follow specific aftercare tips from your doctor.

Costs of Monovision LASIK

Monovision LASIK is typically more expensive than standard LASIK. 

It often costs around $4,000 or more for both eyes. Costs vary widely around the country due to regional variations, surgical prices, and the surgeon’s experience. 

As LASIK is considered an elective procedure and an alternative to eyewear, most insurance policies do not cover this procedure. Many vision insurance providers offer discount plans where policyholders can receive a substantial discount on the total cost of the procedure with certain providers.

Monovision LASIK FAQs

What is monovision LASIK?

Monovision LASIK is intended to correct presbyopia, correcting one eye for distance vision and one eye for close vision. It allows people with age-related farsightedness to often reduce their reliance on reading glasses. 

How long does it take to adjust after monovision LASIK?

It can take the brain a little while to adjust to monovision. While each person’s experience is unique, it generally takes a few weeks to adjust. 

During this time, the brain gets used to the new way that the eyes are focusing. Some people experience clear vision right away, while others take a little longer. 


Can you do monovision after LASIK?

Usually, you can have monovision LASIK after standard LASIK. If you don’t have thick enough corneas for a second LASIK procedure, other surgical options may be possible. Talk with your doctor to determine the best vision correction options available for your unique circumstances.

Does monovision LASIK always work?

Monovision LASIK boasts a high patient satisfaction rate at about 85 percent. Most people are able to reduce their reliance on reading glasses via the procedure.

References

  1. What Is Monovision or Blended Vision? American Academy of Ophthalmology.

  2. What Is Presbyopia? American Academy of Ophthalmology.

  3. Monovision LASIK. EyeWiki, American Academy of Ophthalmology.

  4. Monovision LASIK a Good Option for Emmetropic Presbyopes. (April 2019). Ocular Surgery News.

  5. The Option of Monovision. Stanford Medicine.

  6. Depth Perception American Academy of Ophthalmology.

  7. Monovision LASIK in Emmetropic Presbyopic Patients. (September 2018). Clinical Ophthalmology.

  8. Monovision LASIK for Pre-Presbyopic and Presbyopic Patients. (July 2005). Journal of Refractive Surgery.

Last Updated September 7, 2022

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