It’s devastating when suddenly you can’t see the road signs while behind the wheel of the car, which can be dangerous on the busy Los Angeles streets. Everything seems cloudier than usual. Not only does this affect how you see everything around you, it is frightening. Without eyesight, life changes. Fortunately, cataract surgery has a great deal of success in getting rid of cloudy vision so you can see the street signs again.
For those already wearing glasses, one of the questions they have is if they can throw out the glasses after cataract surgery. The answer to this depends on if a person is a good candidate for monovision cataract surgery. This is when a person is fitted with an intraocular lens for seeing far away and another for seeing up close. When this type of lens replacement is done, it is possible to toss the glasses.
How Monovision Surgery Works
When monovision surgery is performed, a replacement lens is placed in the dominant eye for seeing far away. In a separate operation, a lens for seeing up close is placed in the non-dominant eye. Once both eyes have had their surgeries, the brain will adjust based on the input each eye is giving it. The result is a patient that can see near and far.
While some patients will be able to eliminate their corrective lenses in this way, some patients will still need glasses for some tasks. Perhaps they will need them while reading or driving, but they may not need them for watching TV or performing basic tasks throughout their day.
Nonetheless, monovision takes some adjusting. The best candidate is someone who has had contact lenses for many years and has taken the monovision approach with those lenses. It is easier for the brain to adjust.
Other candidates for the surgery may be able to try monovision. This involves changing the lens in one eye and providing a contact lens for the other. If the patient does well during the trial period, he or she can have the surgery on the second eye. This surgery is not for everyone, but it is a possibility for those with cataracts that want to eliminate or reduce the use of corrective lenses.
Some monovision surgery patients will need to have a special pair of glasses that helps their eyes focus for distance while driving at night. Night driving can be difficult on the eyes anyway, so having monovision cataract surgery can make it worse. The glasses can make driving at night much safer.
Dysphotopsia after Surgery
Right after cataract surgery, it can be difficult for patients to tell if it has helped them because they may experience dysphotopsia, which is seeing halos, glares, streaks, or shadows. The symptoms usually clear on their own, but a small percentage of people may need to have their lenses replaced. This isn’t an issue that occurs in just monovision patients, nor is it necessarily an indicator that corrective lenses are going to be needed after the symptoms go away. Patients that have multifocal cataract surgery have an increased chance of dysphotopsia than those that have monovision surgery.