Presbyopia is a condition all too familiar to anyone who needs reading glasses to focus up close, which generally occurs as we reach our 40s and 50s. It develops because the mechanism inside the eye that allows the eye’s crystalline lens to change shape no longer functions adequately. Treatment for presbyopia does not warrant an invasive surgical procedure inside the eye.
Laser eye surgeons use a slightly altered version of the safe and minimally invasive laser vision correction treatments performed for distance to provide either a monovision correction (typically the dominant eye is corrected for distance and the non-dominant eye is corrected for reading) or a blended vision solution that best corrects for distance while also reducing the need for reading glasses.
Candidates for Monovision Treatment
Suitable candidates for monovision are individuals over the age of 40 that have presbyopia and want to be able to see clearly at all distances without the inconvenience of glasses. They should have healthy eyes and be free of any eye disease or disorder that could jeopardize laser treatment. For patients undergoing traditional LASIK (vs. No-Cut LASIK), candidates should have corneas that are thick enough to withstand the creation of the corneal flap before the corneal tissue is reshaped.
In certain cases, before she recommends monovision treatment, Dr. Belmont asks prospective candidates to wear contact lenses with two different corrective properties to mimic the effects of monovision for a few days. If this experimental trial goes well, and the patient is able to adapt and see clearly without unwanted side effects, Dr. Belmont can confidently recommend monovision treatment. If the trial is not successful, Dr. Belmont can suggest an alternative solution.
Monovision Treatment: What to Expect
The monovision treatment itself is nearly identical to No-Cut LASIK (or the older, traditional LASIK surgery). One of the only differences is that prior to surgery, Dr. Belmont takes measure to confirm which eye is the dominant eye, or the eye that the patient subconsciously relies on and has the better vision of the two. Then, during the laser eye surgery, Dr. Belmont uses an advanced laser to correct the dominant eye for distance vision, and the non-dominant eye for near vision.
The surgery is short and the laser correction itself takes less than a minute per eye. Patients receive medication so that the surgery is comfortable and afterward, should be driven home by a friend or family member.
Recovering from monovision is similar to recovering from LASIK. There is normally an adjustment period, during which the brain learns to adapt and toggle between the eyes to see clearly at a wide range of distances. The length of this adjustment period is different for everyone; some people need a few weeks, others need a month to feel comfortable with the effects of monovision, depending on the difference in the prescription between the eyes after treatment. However, most patients agree that a few weeks of adjustment is worth a totally new way of seeing clearly!
Sometimes there are side effects such as difficulty reading from a distance, or driving at night, but these issues tend to resolve themselves quickly. The brain rewires itself so it can automatically rely on the correct eye for the appropriate distance, without the need for contacts or glasses.
After the adjustment period following monovision treatment, patients normally enjoy independence from visual aids. Essentially what happens after surgery is that the right eye is used for different tasks than the left. With better visual clarity provided by monovision treatment, patients can read fine print, drive, play sports and engage in all of their favorite activities without requiring glasses or contacts.
Learn More about Monovision Treatment
If you are thinking about monovision correction for presbyopia, Dr. Belmont welcomes you to book a visit to speak with her about the surgery. She can explain the pros and cons to help you determine whether it might be right for you.