What are monovision contacts?

Monovision contacts are when you wear a contact in one eye for distance and a contact in the other eye for reading. They are not a special type of contact. It’s a standard contact lens, but rather than make both eyes see well far away, one eye is set to see up close instead.

Advantage of monovision

The main advanage of contact lens is it’s an option for anyone willng to try. It doesn’t require a special contact that only comes in, or works well in, certain prescriptions.

In some people, monovision contacts can have better vision quality than multifocal contacts. Multifocal contacts give you both distance and reading vision in both eyes, but the trade off can sometimes be glare or a haze to the vision. Monovision will give you clear vision in each eye.

Cost of monovision is less than multifocal also. This goes back to monovison contacts be a “normal” lens. The other reason is some people only need to wear one contact (more on this later).

Disadvantages of monovision

The biggest drawback of monovision is you can lose some depth perception. An easy test for this is close one eye. You can still tell where everything is at in the room, but in some situations, your depth perception just isn’t as good.

Another disadvantage is some people don’t adapt to monovision. For it to work, your brain has to focus using the eye that’s best for the situation. If you’re looking at a menu, the eye with the reading contact needs to take over. If you’re watching TV, the eye with the distance contact needs to be dominant. Many people the brain chooses the correct eye naturally, but other people, the brain never adapts and wants to use both eyes at all times.

How long does it take to adapt to monovison?

Everyone is different in how long it takes to adapt to monovison. For most people, monovision makes one eye blurrier far away so it can see up close. This brain has to learn to ignore this eye when looking far away.

In my experience, most people adapt to monovision in 1-2 weeks, or they won’t adapt. This doesn’t mean more adaption won’t occur over the next few months, but if it’s not working at all in the first couple of weeks, it’s probably better to look at other options. If it’s not perfect but making some improvement, sticking with monovision a little longer may work out.

Can i wear a contact in only one eye?

Depending on your vision (nearsighted or farsighted), you may only have to wear a contact in one eye.

Most people we a contact to make distance (TV, driving, etc) vision clear in their dominant eye, and they were a contact in their non-dominant eye to make reading (computer, phone, books, etc) clear.

If you have good distance vision without contacts, then you can probably get by not wearing a contact in your dominant eye, and only wearing a contact in your non-dominant eye to help with reading.

If you’re able to read without glasses or contacts, you might be able to just wear a contact in your dominant eye to make the distance clear and wear no lens in your non-dominant eye.

There are some details that go beyond this article, and your doctor could let you know if one contact would work for you. For the people does, it’s a quick and easy way to only pay half for contacts.

Is monovision bad for your eyes?

No, monovision is perfectly healthy for your eyes. Some people are concerned that maybe the eye that is not clear for distance or reading might be straining.

If you don’t adapt well to monovision, you might experience eye strain, but it won’t cause permanent damage, and the strain should go away pretty quickly once you removes the lenses.

How to calculate monovision contacts

If you have your standard/distance contact prescription, you can calculate what your monovision contacts prescription would be.

There are two things you need to know first: your age and the reading distance you want to be clear.

Distance you want to be clear may need some explaining. Your distance prescription will be the same, so nothing to calculate here. But your reading prescription is different depending on where you want to focus. A contact that is great for “near” objects at 3 feet won’t be good at 6 inches. It doesn’t have to be exact–in example, a contact that is design to be clear at 15 inches will also probably be clear at 18 inches.

This is worth bringing up (it matters more for presbyopic patients over the age of 53) because most people like to read books/phones/etc at about 15 inches from their face, but they also use their computer and it’s often around 30 inches from their face.

(calculator with age add chart and then reading distance if needed)

Are monovision contacts worth it?

Overall, I think the eye world is going away from monovision contacts and favoring multifocal contacts, but monovision contacts are still a great option for some people.

I’d start with multifocals contacts and if that doesn’t work, consider monovision as the next option. You may also want to check out our article on all of your contact lens options with presbyopia.

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