Can glasses be prescribed for monovision?

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Let's face it — nobody wants to wear bifocals when they get older and notice their near vision is fading due to presybopia after age 40.

For contact lens wearers who are experiencing vision loss from presbyopia, one option is monovision contacts. This requires an eye doctor to modify the contact lens prescription so one eye (the dominant eye) sees distant objects clearly and the other eye (the non-dominant eye) sees clearly up close.

There are pros and cons to prescribing lenses this way — including some loss of depth perception — but satisfaction with monovision contacts as an alternative to bifocal or multifocal contacts is quite high.

Are monovision eyeglasses an equally good option to avoid wearing bifocals or eyeglasses with progressive lenses?

Most eye doctors do not recommend monovision eyeglasses. This is because, depending on the extra reading power needed, the thickness of the two lenses of monovision glasses can be significantly different. This can cause visual discomfort from unequal magnification effects.

This is not a problem with monovision contact lenses, because contacts are much thinner and sit directly on the surface of the eye. This eliminates any significant magnification differences produced by different-powered lenses.

Still, depending on your particular needs, monovision glasses or monovision reading glasses might be an acceptable option for specific tasks (such as for computer use and reading).

If you are interested, discuss this option with your eye doctor or optician.

Page updated February 2018

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