Monovision and contact lenses

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Monovision is an option for correcting focusing problems caused by presbyopia. But do you know exactly what monovision is and how to achieve it with contact lenses? Before we get into the nitty-gritty, here are some basics to help you fully understand this popular contact lens treatment.

What is presbyopia?

To understand what monovision is and how it works, we have to start at the beginning: What is presbyopia?

This eye condition is a refractive error caused by a loss of elasticity in the crystalline lens. As we get older, the lens loses its elasticity, causing problems focusing at different distances. The lens becomes rigid and loses its ability to accommodate, making focusing more difficult. Around 80% of people over the age of 55 suffer from this eye problem, and because it is associated with ageing, there is no way to prevent it. The name alludes to this, as presbyopia means "old eye" in Greek. However, there are different solutions to ensure clear vision despite presbyopia, including monovision contact lenses.

What is monovision with contact lenses?

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Monovision contact lenses are one of the options for solving presbyopia. This type of solution is based on using one contact lens for near vision correction and another for long distance correction. The decision of which eye should wear which lens should be based on your dominant eye. The human brain tends to pay more attention to the information provided by the dominant eye, which in turn is responsible for capturing distance images. This is why the dominant eye is the one that uses contact lenses for distance vision so that long-distance vision is not affected as much. The non-dominant eye, on the other hand, is the one that uses the contact lenses for near vision.

The monovision system with contact lenses is a good option to avoid glasses, however, this requires some time for your eyes and brain to get used to them, so the adaptation period for these lenses is usually longer. This strategy ultimately allows the patient to see well at near and far distances, even with only one eye. The brain becomes accustomed to this way of processing information and wearers never become aware that they are actually only seeing at different distances with one eye. If you suffer from presbyopia, see your ophthalmologist for advice on how to proceed with your contact lens prescription.

Ways to adapt contact lenses to monovision

Depending on your vision needs, your ophthalmologist can prescribe different types of monovision with contact lenses. Below, we explain the different methods:

  • Mini-monovision: Mini-monovision is often an excellent solution for people who find that standard monovision does not provide clear distance vision. In this variation, a lower magnification power than usual is added to the near vision lens. This type of monovision is perfect for people who do not require such sharp near vision on a daily basis. For example, this would be ideal for someone who spends a large part of the day driving, but at a certain moment needs to be able to read a menu or look at the phone without the need for reading glasses.
  • Modified monovision: This type of monovision combines a standard spherical lens for distance vision and a multifocal lens in the other eye for near vision. This variant offers clear vision for long distance vision and standard vision for near vision, without the need for glasses for activities such as computer work.

Advantages of monovision contact lenses?

There are many options for a solution to presbyopia, but monovision stands out as one of the simplest and cheapest options of all:

The advantage of monovision is that it can be achieved with almost any type of contact lens on the market, not necessarily multifocal lenses, which are generally more expensive. For wearers who suffer from astigmatism as well as presbyopia, monovision is an easier option than multifocal toric lenses, as you can choose from many different brands of inexpensive lenses.

If you are a regular wearer of a particular brand and start to suffer from presbyopia, you may even be able to keep using the same brand without having to look for other lenses.

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Other ways to treat presbyopia

Glasses: There are different types of glasses to solve presbyopia, from bifocals to progressive glasses and even reading glasses. However, these options have some disadvantages, from a high price point, to the reduction of freedom when performing certain activities or even the need to wear 2 pairs of glasses at all times.

Progressive or multifocal lenses: These lenses, like multifocal glasses, offer several focal points, thus providing different corrections for short, long and medium distances. Unlike spectacles, they offer much more freedom of movement and comfort.

Do you have questions about monovision with lenses? Be sure to obtain the best advice from your optician or ophthalmologist. The optician can conduct an eye test to prescribe lenses with the correct strength.