Answers by Mitchell Gossman, MD, an ophthalmologist at Eye Associates of Central Minnesota, located in St. Cloud
In Part 1 of this series, you’ve learned that you can decide between being able to read or see far without glasses after you have cataract surgery. But what if you want to be able to do both? That’s the subject of this article.
When cataract surgery is performed in both eyes, you can plan on having one eye focused for distance without glasses. You learned in the previous article that you can also focus an eye for reading, so you might wonder, what would happen if you do the surgery on the second eye, but focus it at near. Can that be done?
The answer is... Yes! This situation is called “monovision.” The prefix “mono” means “single.” If you ask me, I think that “monovision” is not a good term for this situation because the purpose of it is to be able to see at two distances, not one. Unfortunately, we’re stuck with that terminology.
Monovision does have some compromises and limitations:
1. One eye is always set for distance, so the question is, how close can you set the distance for reading? You can set it to the typical distance of 14 inches away, which is where bifocals are normally focused, but some people will not tolerate having the two eyes so different. The reading eye will necessarily be fuzzier in the distance than the distance eye, and this can be discombobulating for some people.
2. You can set the reading distance to something farther away, at intermediate distances, such as 18-20 inches, which is a typical distance for computers, larger print, shopping, and looking at shelves, etc. This distance is usually well tolerated, and works in harmony with the distance eye. But you will require glasses, perhaps over-the-counter reading glasses, to read fine print.
3. With the two eyes not being set at the same distance, it can affect depth perception, but normally it is not a problem for the intermediate monovision option.
My recommendation for patients who have experience with monovision already, such as via prior LASIK surgery, wearing contacts, or even born this way, is to continue with what you’re used to.
For those who are not experienced with monovision, I normally recommend the intermediate near distance monovision, also known as “mini-monovision,” in order to not risk dissatisfaction with having the reading eye set too close.
But what if you want to be able to see far, but also read without glasses, and with both eyes working at the same time? That’s possible too, and that’s the subject in Part 3, coming in the next issue.
Find out more
Dr. Mitchell Gossman is a comprehensive ophthalmologist at Eye Associates of Central Minnesota. The office is located at 628 Roosevelt Road, Suite 101, in St. Cloud. To make an appointment or to learn more, call 320-774-3789 or email email@example.com.
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