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Monocular Vision: What it is, How You Can Treat it, and More

Vision complications can be disruptive and uncomfortable, no matter who you are or what you do. Some of these issues are simple and have an easy fix, while others can be more serious- and may even be the sign of an underlying health condition.

Today we’re covering Monocular vision- or sight loss in one eye. No need to worry, we’ve compiled everything you need to know here, from what monocular vision is, to how you can treat it, and what to do if you have it. Keep scrolling for more!

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What is Monocular Vision?

The word monocular comes from the Greek root mono for single, and the Latin root oculus for eye

Monocular vision impairment means that your vision is impaired in one eye, but you can see perfectly fine out of the other. 

There are a number of common obstacles associated with this type of impaired vision. The most common is the inability to determine the depth of objects that are close to you, typically within about three feet. In many cases, people with monocular vision (or sight in only one eye) refer to this condition as “partially sighted.” 

What Causes Monocular Vision?

There are a variety of reasons why you can develop this vision loss, including inflammation, vasculitis, and mechanical dysfunction. However, the most common cause of monocular vision is damage to the eye, which results in permanent vision loss.

Other common causes of monocular vision include:

  • Trauma 
  • Eye injury
  • Eye surgery
  • Eye disorders (such as cataracts, glaucoma or macular degeneration)

Double Vision and Monocular Diplopia 

Double vision (also called diplopia) is when you see two images of one object while you’re looking at it. You might experience this in one or both of your eyes. 

Seeing double can be frightening because a wide variety of things can cause it. However, if you seek treatment immediately after noticing this vision change, you and your doctor can work together to find the right treatment to improve your symptoms.. 

If you have monocular double vision (meaning it only affects one of your eyes) you may want to consider LASIK surgery to correct the refractive error. For binocular double vision (which occurs in both eyes) you can try eye muscle exercises to improve their strength. 

In any case, don’t let your double vision go untreated! Talk to your doctor about all of your options so you can determine the best path.  

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Can I Drive with Monocular Vision? 

Here’s the good news: People with monocular vision can legally drive in all 50 states.

If you have monocular vision, learning (or relearning) to drive is absolutely possible. Talk to your eye doctor about the options available to you, and see if there are any programs designed specifically to help people with this condition. 

Here are a few ways to stay safe on the road if you have monocular vision, or another type of vision impairment: 

  • Don’t go over the speed limit
  • Use visual cues (like road stripes and landmarks) to help you gage distance.
  • Keep a significant distance between yourself and the car in front of you.
  • Only get behind the wheel if you feel alert and well-rested 
  • Don’t drive in the rain or snow
  • Take advantage of your blind-spot mirrors

Tips for Living with Monocular Vision

If you’re experiencing monocular vision, it’s normal to need some time to adjust to this new challenge- both emotionally and physically. You’ll have to learn to use your vision in a different way, and at times it may not be as automatic as it was before. Your visual system will have to adjust to this new level of sight and you will have to learn to trust what you are seeing.

Here are some helpful tips for everyday living to help you adjust to monocular vision: 

  • When you’re putting a drink down, place one hand on the table and use the other to  place the drink next to it. 
  • When you’re pouring something, gently rest the lip of the content on the rim of your cup.  
  • If you’re going up or down a flight of steps, feel ahead with your foot and keep a hand on the railing or bannister. 
  • Tell your friends and family that it’s easier for you to see them if they sit on your “good” side. 
  • Walk with a partner, or against a wall, to help prevent you from bumping into people in a crowded place. 

Final Thoughts on Monocular Vision

Monocular vision impacts millions of patients every day. If you are  experiencing this common vision challenge, it’s important that you take the best possible care of your eyes. 

By going in for regular eye exams, eating foods that promote healthy vision, and paying close attention to any changes in your eyesight, you can hopefully catch a vision complication before it becomes life-altering. 

For people who have sight in only one eye, it may be a good idea to consider the use of protective eyewear or sports goggles for certain activities to prevent injury to your “good” eye.

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