Can LASIK Treat Patients with Bifocals?
By Andrew E Holzman, MD FACS on December 13, 2016
When people in the greater Washington, DC area have questions about their vision, they often turn to us for answers. We've built a strong reputation for advanced cutom LASIK surgery and state-of-the-art approaches to laser vision correction, and are proud to be such a resources for so many people.
A number of older patients have expressed interest in LASIK as an alternative to bifocals. For some people, it just may work. Let's go into this topic in a bit more detail, starting with the reason people wear bifocals: presbyopia.
Presbyopia refers to a type of age-related farsightedness (hyperopia). This is part of the natural aging process, and something people will experience to some degree later in life. Presbyopia typically sets in around the mid to late 40s.
What Causes Presbyopia?
The exact mechanism of presbyopia can vary, but the primary issue involves the hardening of the natural lens of the eye as well as changes in the muscles that control the lens. This loss of flexibility and change in muscle control and activity mean that it is more difficult for people to focus on objects that are far away.
Bifocals are a common solution to presbyopia. But there is actually a LASIK procedure that can help. It's known as monovision LASIK.
Monovision LASIK is a type of laser eye surgery that can be performed to treat presbyopia. Rather than correcting both of a patient's eyes relative equally, monovision LASIK only corrects one of a patient's eyes. Essentially the patient has one eye for distance vision and the other for near vision. The brain is able to process these two separate signals and improve a person's overall eyesight in the process.
Thanks to monovision LASIK, a patient can see fine without the need for bifocals.
Ideal Candidates for Monovision LASIK
The best candidates for monovision LASIK are people who suffer from presbyopia and would like an alternative to prescription bifocals. They should have corneas of average thickness and not suffer from dry eye syndrome, both of which are important considerations for traditional LASIK surgery. The ideal candidate should also be in good overall health so that eye surgery is not a risk to overall wellness. Realistic expectations about surgery, recovery, and results is also important.
Patients should also be able to tolerate monovision without significant problems. As part of the consultation process, patients will often wear a contact lens or two contact lenses to help simulate monovision. If the patient is not able to tolerate monovision, another procedure will need to be considered.
Other Treatments for Presbyopia
If a patient is not a good candidate for LASIK specifically but is otherwise able to undergo laser eye surgery per se, an alternative laser vision procedure may be considered, such as monovision PRK or monovision LASEK. Eligibility for these procedures can be discussed in the consultation process.
It is also possible to get artificial lenses to replace the natural lenses of the eyes. These are known as intraocular lenses (IOLs), and they can be quite effective at restoring vision and eliminating dependence on bifocals.
We'll be more than happy to go over these and many more options in much more detail during your visit to the practice.
Learn More About LASIK Surgery
If you are interested in LASIK and other advanced eye care treatments, we encourage you to contact our team of eye care specialists today. During your visit, we can discuss all of your treatment options in much greater detail.