Wearing monovision contact lenses is an alternative to wearing eyeglasses if you need bifocals, or reading glasses. It is monocular vision. Essentially monovision is: one eye corrected for distance (the dominant eye) and the other eye corrected for close up, near vision (the non-dominant eye).
While this may sound strange and difficult to adjust to, many people wear contact lenses like this very successfully. It is so successful for so many people, that many people have laser eye surgery corrected for monovision.
Reading this description, you may think that if you are using monovision, you will have to close one eye to see properly. This is not the case. While only one eye sees clearly at a time, both eyes are still seeing, it's just that one eye is somewhat blurred (depending on the prescription). Some people do automatically adjust their head to see more clearly. For example, if you are right eye dominant, you may tilt your head slightly to the left so that your right eye is seeing far away (eg. TV); or you may tilt your head to the right so that your left eye can see the book you are reading.
It does take some time to get used to monovision, and there are some things to beware of when first trying these lenses.
Any time you deviate from your actual prescription, there will be some compromise in your vision, whether it be distance, intermediate or near. If it is critical that you have crisp vision at all distances, you are better off choosing glasses. The idea of monovision is to give you good vision all around, which allows you to drive, check your cell phone, and see your speedometer without having to put glasses on. While you can see well enough to drive, you might not see the street signs quite as soon as you could with your glasses; and you might have to hold your cell phone a little further away, or increase the font size.
Since you only have two eyes, we can only correct for two distances with monovision. Most people do very well with distance and intermediate, since most things they look at are at these distances. If needing to see smaller print occasionally, a low powered reading glass usually does the trick.
Some people do prefer to have distance and reading, if they do a lot of close work. This is usually a little harder to get used to, since there is a greater difference in powers between distance and reading; the eyes don't focus as well together. But it can be done.
Monovision can be a good alternative to multifocal contact lenses, if you find them difficult to get used to, or if the you find the price of them is too high.
Benefits of monovision vs multifocals:
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