For those over the age of forty who are considering laser vision correction, it is important to understand the effects of age on the ability to focus up close.
This age related loss of focus ability is called presbyopia. For people with good uncorrected distance vision and for those who have a full contact lens correction for distance, presbyopia means that at some point after the age of forty you will begin to need reading glasses (or reading glasses over your contacts) in order to read up close. As this age related process continues you will begin to need glasses for computer work and other intermediate work. People who wear glasses full time will need a progressive lens or a bifocal in order to read with their glasses on. Before progressive (lineless bifocal) lenses were available you would likely get a bifocal sometime in your forties, and then a trifocal to include the mid-range correction in your fifties. People with mild nearsightedness may simply take their glasses off to read rather than getting a progressive or bifocal eyeglass.
Those who wear contacts for distance with reading glasses over their contacts will eliminate the need for their distance contact lenses but will still need reading glasses after laser eye surgery if both eyes are corrected fully for distance. For people who wear bifocal or progressive lenses, laser vision correction will eliminate just the top distance correction if a distance target is chosen. Reading glasses will still be needed following surgery, and if you are in your fifties then a mid-range correction might be required as well. For the mildly nearsighted people who are over the age of forty, they may be trading their distance glasses for readers with a full laser vision correction. For this group, anything the ordinarily do with glasses off will require readers. An example is someone who does desk work all day with their glasses off and then puts their glasses on to drive home; this person will wear readers and possibly computer glasses all day at work and then take them off to drive home. It is important to understand the effects of presbyopia in order to make sure you will be satisfied with the outcome of surgery.
The only alternative to readers for those who undergo laser vision correction and are over the age of forty is to consider monovision. Monovision is when one eye is corrected fully for distance and the other is left mildly nearsighted for close work. This arrangement may work well for some people, but it is important to simulate monovision with contact lenses or with a trial-frame in your eye doctor’s office before considering it for a permanent laser vision correction. For a mildly nearsighted person, monovision may mean that a correction is done only in one eye and the other is left untouched. If possible the trial should include both ways – right eye for distance and left for close and then left eye for distance and right for close. Your optometrist can assist you in doing a monovision trial with contact lenses.
If you can adjust to monovision and are over forty, this option will give you the widest range of functional vision without having to put readers on and off. Monovision may not completely eliminate the need for glasses. Some people with monovision might prefer to wear glasses for night driving or to wear readers for detailed close tasks like sewing. Monovision is a compromise. Your best vision will be obtained with both eyes corrected, which is why some people with monovision will wear glasses for specific tasks. People who spend a large amount of time doing hobbies like tennis or golf or who depend on distance vision for their jobs like professional drivers may not be good candidates for monovision. In general, monovision is not recommended for younger people since the benefit of monovision will not be present until sometime after the age of forty.
Whether to do a full correction for distance or to do monovision with any of the laser vision correction techniques is a personal choice. It is important if you are over the age of forty to understand the choice you are making so you are not disappointed by having to wear reading glasses or computer glasses after surgery.
More information on monovision and other laser vision correction options is available in Dr. Anderson Penno’s book “Laser Vision Correction: What You Need To Know”. It is available at Amazon here.
To book your complimentary laser vision assessment, contact Western Laser Eye Associates today.