The Aging Eye: Options For Crystal Clear Vision

June 01, 2012

As people begin to age, their eyes begin to change and they have a hard time reading! Common complaints heard at their eye care professional's office are, "My arms aren't long enough! I have to hold my book so far away from my eyes!" or, "The restaurant lighting is so dim and the menu print so small that I can't read." The good news is that these issues are very easily solved. The following are options for those whose reading vision is subpar: bifocals, trifocals, progressive lenses, monovision with contacts, and monovision with LASIK. Another not so common solution is lens implant surgery. Here are the pros and cons for each option.


Pros: The most common and economical solution. Most insurance covers the cost of these lenses. There is a large area in the glasses for reading and an even larger area for distance. Both close and distance vision is crisp and clear. Patients can see clearly for driving and can also see to read without having to remove their glasses. This is perfect for patients who primarily only do activities involving reading, or seeing far away.

Cons: The glasses do not correct for mid range distances (computers, prices on shelves) and patients often have to wear a second pair of glasses for those activities. You also have a prominent line going through the lenses.


Pros: Similar to bifocals, the glasses have distinctly separate areas, with a line separating them for up close, mid range and far away distances. Most insurance companies cover these types of glasses. The vision is crisp for reading, computers and driving. Trifocals are a great solution for those who need all three ranges on a regular basis and don't want two pairs of glasses.

Cons: The areas for seeing mid, far, and up close distances is markedly smaller than the bifocals. Patients complain that they have to move their head up and down a lot to see through them. They also have two noticeable lines going through the lens.

Progressive Lenses

Pros: Allow patients to see variations of different distances. This is a perfect solution for the patient who has a very active lifestyle and needs to be able to see things moderately well at a variety of ranges.

Cons: Most insurance companies do not cover this type of lens. Although they allow patients to see at various distances, none of the ranges are going to be crystal clear with this type of lens. Many patients complain of having to move their head around to find the right "spot." This type of lens definitely requires adjusting to.

Monovision with Contacts

In this option, the patient wears a contact lens on one eye for reading, and uses the other eye for distance.

Pros: Allows patients to see distance and up close without wearing glasses. Vision is very crisp for both distance and near. Temporary solution-patient can always go back to glasses.

Cons: If patients have never worn contacts, there is a learning process in how to take care of the lenses(cleaning, etc.) There is an adjustment period for the brain to learn to "ignore" one eye, depending on what distance it is looking at. Some people can never adjust to just using one eye. Some people still need glasses for computer distance.

Monovision with LASIK Surgery

Patients have typically had LASIK surgery performed on one eye for reading, and use the other eye for distance.

Pros: Maintenance and worry free. Once patients get used to monovision, they often say it is like having their "20 year old" eyes back. Patients don't have to worry about cleaning/changing glasses or contacts. It is a permanent solution.

Cons: Some people still need to wear glasses for computer.

Remember, it is your vision and your eyes. Do your research. Talk to your ophthalmologist about the options available for your own vision needs.

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