Monovision via LASIK?
April 14, 2021 5:17 AM   Subscribe

I'm curious to hear from people who have chosen to elect monovision correction via LASIK. As I understand it, monovision makes one eye near-sighted and the other far-sighted with the goal of delaying the (albeit eventual) need for reading glasses.

After 30 years of daily contact lens use, I'm considering LASIK surgery. I've read the questions and concerns in multiple MeFi Asks (including this ask about monovision contacts) and am taking all of that to heart. I've found a good, reputable surgeon who does LASIK for the local sports teams, and I'm lucky enough to be able to pay out of pocket.

The surgeon talked to me about monovision, which would (in his informed opinion) potentially slow the need for reading glasses. I understand that LASIK does not affect the eventual need for reading glasses as we age, and I'm cool with that.

He'll be sending me home for a monovision contact lens trial, which will be great. I'm still curious as to what having LASIK-corrected monovision can be like. There's a weird part of my brain that thinks "But one eye will get STRONG and the other will get WEAK and my brain will atrophy!" Stupid brain.

If you've had LASIK and chose monovision, what has that experience been like for you? Aside from judging how it goes with the monovision contact lens test, anything else I should be thinking about?

FWIW I look at a computer monitor all day and read a lot, both of which I need glasses or contacts for at the moment. Thanks!
posted by kinsey to Health & Fitness (5 answers total)
I tried monovision via contacts and it was fine 90% of the time but hopeless for driving with the GPS on. Like, had to wear an eyepatch level of hopeless. Because the close eye would try to go for the GPS but it was too far out of range, so I'd end up with double vision. It was frustrating, especially at night. I had the same problem with trying to watch tv: double vision and have to close one eye. I ended up getting bifocal contacts.
posted by xo at 5:26 AM on April 14 [3 favorites]

So I've got natural monovision, so I can't comment on the LASIK part (and such I also have no idea what your adjustment period would be like), but let's see what I can describe having monovision is like.

Just like you'd think, you can see near or far. Sometimes closing one eye or the other will make the near or the far *slightly* sharper, but really it's basically a continuum. I paint stuff about a foot or two from my face, and the eye that struggles with distance is GREAT for that. It's annoying AF if you're in a movie theater or the back seat of a car and the wrong eye is blocked off, then yeah - stuff can be blurry because the wrong eye is blocked. But really - your brain is magic - I have glasses but I don't need them....EXCEPT:

My depth perception feels kinda shoddy. It's fine for things in the middle distance, and for any gross motor skills, but if I'm at work and need to weigh small amounts of samples into small cups, I need glasses or I hilariously dump sample just outside the cup. For driving, I tend to give extra space for cars if I'm turning into traffic - my depth perception there is "learned" - I have to estimate the speed based on size and distance away, less from the depth perception I may have. It's not that I *can't* estimate where the car is, it's just a little...fuzzier. Again, brains are great for figuring this stuff out. My left eye is entirely crossed out in my driving vision acuity test, but I still don't need glasses since it's just regular ol' blurriness.

Oh, I guess 3D movies don't work super well. I've never really been impressed with any 3D movies, so I don't think I'm seeing the effect particularly well. But no headaches or challenges, they just look more or less like normal 2D movies to me.

As for the feeling of eyes being strong and weak - it definitely sometimes feels like Lefty is just being lazy, but I've been assured by my optometrist (who nerded out about natural monovision and got really excited) that it's not harmful at all. If anything, it's more challenging data for your brain to parse as it seamlessly stitches two streams of data and makes it all in focus (which it really, really does - I didn't think I had an issue until I went for a routine visit in my teens)....but that's probably not how brains work.
posted by aggyface at 10:03 AM on April 14 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I’ve had lasik mono vision for 5 years. Before had great reading but terrible distance vision. Since surgery I have a pretty good both without glasses. It’s like a futon, so an uncomfortable couch and bed but can do both. I would do it again because I don’t need glasses but my vision is impaired. Absolutely forget about critically examining anything closely, like fixing a small mechanism or jewelry because depth perception is so bad, but only in very close tiny things. I can read no problem though.
posted by waving at 6:15 PM on April 14

Not exactly your ? but I got LASIK at about age 40 that corrected lifelong nearsightedness to 20/20 (I was wearing coke-bottle contacts). Then after about a decade I developed monovision "naturally".

After ten years with it I have to say I like it. Early on I got disposable -1 contacts for my "close" eye to wear to the movies and such, but it was just too much trouble. Maybe because it came on over a period of about a year(?) my brain was able to adjust without issues.

A huge + is that it allows me to avoid reading glasses in most cases. Distance vision "fills itself in". Depth perception is fine and I don't have issues with my PSVR. I have glasses that bring both eyes to 20/20 but I seldom use them.
posted by achrise at 5:15 AM on April 15

Response by poster: Thank you all for the great info! I've been trying monovision contacts for about 2 weeks, and I'm going to go ahead and get the monovision LASIK. Yes, it's not perfectly "seamless" but I can drive, read, and do everything else with no real problems. The clincher was taking out my monovision contacts at the end of the day and being annoyed at how much I had to "trombone" my phone and other small print things in order to read them. The futon comparison was spot on. The small inconvenience of two-different-seeing eyes is matched by the convenience of being able to read up close and far away at the same time.
posted by kinsey at 8:07 AM on May 3

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