Larry in Virginia asks:
I have a question about vision problems and photography. I had cataract surgery two years ago after having been nearsighted and wearing glasses daily for most of my life. I never had a problem with my vision in my photography with glasses.
As people may or may not know, basic cataract surgery replaces your eyes' lenses which become cloudy and yellow with brand new clear lenses. Cataract surgery also corrects vision, but only distance or reading and not both at the same time. You have to choose one type of correction or the other with the lenses you select. Then you may need or want to get new glasses for the other. As a photographer, I have to constantly shift from looking in the distance to looking closely at my camera controls. If I'm working on the computer, that's a third type of distance which is a middle distance. To make a long story short, I find myself constantly taking my glasses off and putting them back on again in order to see what I'm looking at whether far away, middle distance or close-up. And I use progressive lenses which are supposed to handle that. But in my case, it really doesn't. Are there other photographers out there who have had cataract surgery and can share how they've been dealing with their surgery results?
It just so happens that I have experience in this area. In 2003 I had cataract surgery in both eyes and I didn't experience that much difference other than the clearing of my vision. I don't use glasses except for night driving.
I remember the discussion about this subject with my eye surgeon. My eye surgeon explained to me that my eyes have a relatively rare configuration called natural monovision where one eye is specialized for close-up vision and the other eye specialized for distance vision. Both eyes work together so it feels like I can see both near and far in both eyes. The surgeon said that people who don't have natural monovision have to make the decision like you made, about whether you want your cataract lenses to be made for seeing distance or closeup and then use glasses to complement the implanted lenses.
My eye surgeon also said they have tried implanting monovision lenses (one for near and one for far) for people who don't have natural monovision but they found that the visual part of the brain sometimes has problems readapting to the change so for people like you dealing with glasses is a part of cataract surgery.
My sister-in-law told me that optometrists do make monovision contact lenses (one contact focuses close and one focuses far) because they aren't permanent like cataract lenses are. So it may be worthwhile to ask your optometrist to make you monovision contacts. If you can get used to them they may eliminate the need for glasses. Contacts are much more expensive but it may be worth it.