The Fine Print
Focus on seeing clearly with several good options.
Vision correction options include mono vision
If you have to ask your children or grandchildren to read this story for you because you keep losing your many pairs of reading glasses, you may be ready to focus on a permanent vision fix via surgery. Fortunately, you have options. Read on for the fine print.
Readers may not be your only issue. Many people also need glasses for driving/distance. You may also be considering vision correction if you need cataract surgery anyway.
One option that works well for some people is called mono vision lens replacement, says Dr. Samuel N. Garrett of Virginia Beach Eye Center. The surgeon replaces your dominant eye’s aging natural lens with a new lens to see clearly at a distance and replaces your non-dominant eye’s lens with one to see clearly close up, Garrett says.
With mono vision correction, you’ll either love it or hate it. The good news is you’ll know the answer pretty soon. “About 50 percent who try it don’t feel right, don’t feel comfortable,” Garrett says.
“You don’t have to try it for months. You try it for days and either you can do it or not.”
Before surgery you can see if mono vision will work for you by wearing contact lenses that correct one eye for distance and the other eye for close up, he says. If you’re getting cataract surgery and have already achieved success with monovision contacts, then you’ll know already that this option will work, Garrett says.
But most people who need cataract surgery have never worn contacts or tried mono vision and they can’t see well enough at that point to try out mono vision contacts, he says.
But another way to try out this option is to get one eye corrected at a time, especially if you’re getting cataract surgery anyway. If the surgeon corrects the first eye for distance, then you’ll have mono vision while waiting for the second eye to get done, he says. You can decide then if mono vision works for you or if you’d rather have both eyes for distance and hold on to your readers for close up work.
If you’re in the 50 percent for whom mono vision works, that’s the best option, Garrett says. It’s less expensive than other options, and your vision will be better, he says.
“With mono vision, you have good distance vision without focusing. You have good near vision without focusing. The image at a distance is perfect. The image at near is perfect. One eye is doing one, the other eye is doing the other.”
If mono vision correction doesn’t work for you, another option is the Crystalens® implant, Garrett says. Crystalens works with your eye muscles and restores your eyes’ natural ability to focus close up for reading, intermediate for computer work or reading music on a stand, and at a distance for driving. You’ll get distance, intermediate and near vision in each eye.
Half of Crystalens patients will easily read with no readers, Garrett says. The other half will either need readers or may find they can read 20-20 reading newsprint but are more comfortable using weak reading glasses, he says.
Crystalens does cost more. But if you’re getting cataract surgery anyway, Medicare now allows you to pay the difference between a standard lens implant and Crystalens, he says.
Garrett cautions that you won’t get perfect focusing ability, especially right away. Studies show that as your eye muscles adapt, focusing continues to improve for at least three years, he says.
“Crystalens takes an adaptation,” he says. “You have to work at that adaptation. It gets better over the years. It’s not a perfect focusing lens. It’s not going to do everything we want it to do.”
But the manufacturer continues research, and Crystalens is on its fourth upgrade and keeps getting better.
Crystalens is the only FDA approved focusing lens implant available. Some patients achieve success with multi-focal lens implants, Garrett says.
These allow you to see at different distances depending on what part of the lens you’re looking through. About 50 to 60 percent of patients are perfectly happy with multi focal lens implants, another 20 to 30 percent are pretty happy and a vocal five percent don’t like them, Garrett says.