Here in Boise, Idaho we see people everyday 40 years of age and older who are enjoying outdoor activities such as skiing, cycling, running, kayaking, hiking, and camping. For most of these activities, glasses or contact lenses are not the best solution when it comes to vision correction. Glasses and contact lenses quickly become “inconvenient” and interfere with overall enjoyment of the activity.
That's why, here at our practice, we see increasing numbers of people 40 years of age and older making the decision to have LASIK. In fact, studies have shown that patients in their 60s are just as likely to have good LASIK outcomes as those in their 40s and 50s.
If you're 40 or older, and considering LASIK, monovision correction may be a good option. Monovision LASIK is a LASIK procedure that corrects one eye for distance vision and the other eye for reading distance. Patients who do not want to rely on reading glasses after LASIK often times choose monovision LASIK.
As we approach 40 most of us gradually lose the ability to see up close as easily and clearly as we once did. A lot of people refer to this as “reading vision.” However, this is also the vision we use for putting on makeup, looking at our smart phone, reading a menu or checking the time on our watch. This condition is called presbyopia and results from the eye losing the ability to change focus, the lens inside the eye becomes rigid and loses flexibility.
Monovision LASIK decreases the need for reading glasses. During a monovision LASIK procedure, the surgeon corrects one eye (usually the dominant eye) for distance, and the other eye for near vision. Monovision is also common among contact lens wearers, correcting one eye for distance vision and the other eye for reading. If you are already a contact lens wearer, your lenses can easily be updated to monovision to allow you to “test drive” monovision ahead of a monovision LASIK procedure.
During a typical LASIK procedure, both eyes are corrected in order to see clearly at distance. This isn't always the best solution for presbyopic patients who are hoping to be completely free of glasses after LASIK. For presbyopic patients, when both eyes are corrected for distance vision this means the only way to see up close is to wear reading glasses. Depending upon lifestyle and expectations, monovision LASIK may be a better solution.
It is important to discuss occupation, hobbies and outdoor activities during your free LASIK screening. Ultimately, deciding between full distance correction and a monovision correction is a personal choice that is based on many factors. There isn't one “right” answer for presbyopic patients. 85% of patients who choose monovision LASIK are satisfied with both near and distance vision without glasses; with approximately 15% of monovision LASIK patients noticing compromises in vision.
What are these compromises associated with monovision LASIK? Monovision LASIK can result in reduced depth perception. Patients who participate in high performance sports, such as racquetball or dirt biking would not be considered ideal candidates for monovision LASIK.
However, for the majority of patients over 40 monovision LASIK is a good solution if:
successfully worn monovision contact lenses
looking for the convenience of a “glasses-free” lifestyle.
not active in high performance sports
opposed to relying on reading glasses
After monovision LASIK, the dominant eye provides clear distance vision which the non-dominant eye sharpens near vision. Monovision of any kind, whether it is monovision LASIK or monovision using contact lenses, involves a degree of compromise. However, the majority of people who choose monovision LASIK feel the convenience of being able to see well at distance vision as well as at reading distance without glasses is well worth the compromise of a slight reduction of clarity in distance vision.
If you are someone who participates in high performance sports – special-purpose, activity specific contact lenses can be prescribed that correct the nearsightedness in the non-dominant eye to optimize distance vision. For example, you would wear a contact lens in the non-dominant eye when playing racquetball.
There isn't a “right” answer, one solution fits all for people 40 and older who are considering LASIK. It is important to talk about your lifestyle and expectations during your LASIK screening. LASIK screenings are typically free of charge, and the perfect time to thoroughly discuss custom, bladeless LASIK and PRK as well as monovision.
Check out our other LASIK blogs:
- LASIK Screenings
- LASIK: Eliminating Glare & Halos
- LASIK over 40
- PRK versus LASIK
- Custom LASIK
- Different Lasers
- Preparing for LASIK
- LASIK Recovery