Author: Dr Val Phua MBBS, MMed (Ophth), FRCOphth, FAMS
Photo by: Dariusz Sankowski
It usually begins at about 40 years old. The distance at which you hold your favourite book or magazine gets progressively further and further away from you. All you life you’ve had perfect eyesight and you’ve always taken good care of your eyes but yet you seem to have some difficulty reading now. You repeatedly dismiss that it could be a sign of your aging eyes. Soon you even start feeling a significant strain and tension between your eyes from trying to focus too hard for too long. You finally check in with your friendly optometrist who then breaks the bad news. Yes you officially have presbyopia and need reading glasses. Welcome to the club.
Millions across the globe identify with this scenario. For many, reading glasses is a fact of life and they are readily accepted. However, there remains a significant number who get highly annoyed with this diagnosis and given prescription. Needing to reach out and slap them on each time you want to read your book or phone, looking for them high and low if you belong to the slightly absent minded group, and those unsightly nose marks after prolonged use. There has to be a better way and there is.
An option that is gaining in popularity is that of monovision. The concept is simple and the results are impressive. One eye is corrected for distance vision and the other for near work. While it may sound strange at first, those who have opted for this are often satisfied with good vision for both distance and near, without reading glasses. Sounds too good to be true? It is. There are some compromises that come with it. The eye that is corrected for near work will view objects at the distance with less than perfect vision and there may also be a slight decrease in depth perception. This may not be suited for those who demand the clearest, sharpest vision for both distance and near work but for those who prioritise convenience and are willing to accept the small compromise, this option works like a charm. During the consultation with your doctor, a contact lens trial can often be tried to simulate monovision for a period and you can have first hand experience to see if this concept works for you. The beauty of it is that during this trial, the amount of correction can be tailored until you are completely satisfied before deciding to make it more permanent with laser vision correction.
In addition to monovision laser correction, the presence of cataracts opens a myriad of options with many different types of intraocular lenses which are able to address this need for reading glasses. This is an extensive topic for another time. For now, look beyond the reading glasses and consider monovision laser correction, it might just work perfectly for you.