Monovision vs. GP Bifocals:
Which Comes Out on Top?
Monovision is one option for presbyopia, but it compromises depth perception and intermediate vision.
Monovision means wearing one contact lens that corrects only distance vision in one eye, and wearing another lens that corrects only near vision in the other eye.
This has traditionally been a popular way to correct presbyopia for contact lens wearers.
However, the introduction of new and improved multifocal contact lenses especially those in GP lens designs makes monovision a secondary and less preferable option.
Disadvantages of Monovision
Although monovision lets you see uninterrupted distance vision with one eye and uninterrupted near vision with the other, this option does involve compromises. They include some decrease in overall distance vision, difficulty in seeing clearly at an intermediate distance (such as your computer screen), some loss of depth perception, and even some suppression of vision out of the blurry eye.
In addition, driving is compromised, especially at night. Glare from oncoming headlights is a common complaint, unless you wear eyeglasses simultaneously, providing distance correction for the near-corrected eye.
Multifocals: Much Better Than Monovision
Multifocal GP lenses provide vision correction at all distances in both eyes. Although there can be mild compromise in vision, depending on the lens design, studies in which GP multifocals have been directly compared with monovision have demonstrated a definite preference for the multifocal option.
Watch this video about Lori Robishaw, a longtime GP lens wearer who now wears GP multifocal contacts.
In one comprehensive study, published in the August 2006 issue of Optometry and Vision Science (the official publication of the American Academy of Optometry), the quality of vision was assessed and compared among participants wearing progressive addition eyeglasses, GP multifocal contact lenses, soft bifocal lenses, and monovision.
When the results of all tests were analyzed, including those for quality of distance and near vision, GP multifocal lenses performed similarly to eyeglasses, soft bifocals were next highest, and monovision performed the poorest of all four options.
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[Page updated February 2013]