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How to Determine Your Dominant Eye

Most people have a dominant eye. It is the eye that looks directly at anything you focus on. We have binocular vision – that means that each eye sees a slightly different scene. Let’s say you are looking at your new car in the driveway. The dominant eye looks directly at it and the non-dominant eye sees it at a slight angle. We don’t feel that difference as the two car images merge and we see one car.

To Find Your Dominant Eye

This experiment is called the Dolman method of determining ocular dominance. It is quick and easy.

  1. Take any piece of paper or cardboard and, somewhere in its center, cut out a square or circle. Make it about one inch wide. It does not have to be a precise shape.
  2. Hold the paper with both hands at arm’s length in front of you.
  3. Look through the hole at any object nearby that is not moving – let’s say it is a desk chair.
  4. As you continue focusing on that chair, gradually draw the paper closer to you until it is touching your face.

You will find that the hole is in front of one of your eyes – your dominant eye. That eye has been the one focusing on the chair all along, while the other eye looked at it a little from the side.

Having Two Views Gives us Depth Perception

Each eye sends its images to the brain along fibers of the optic nerve. Please see Eye Anatomy: The Optic Nerve for a diagram of how that happens. The brain combines data from both images and finds words to describe the resulting single image. This is called binocular vision. We learn to do this in the first two years of life.

In forming the single image and giving it three dimensions, the brain uses two types of cues: monocular (from one eye) and binocular (from both eyes)

Monocular Cues

Binocular vision is not necessary for providing these cues – one eye does it equally well.

  1. When two lines converge in the distance, such as the two shoulders of a road, that is known as a vanishing point. The brain calculates relative distances according to where an object – a tree, for instance – is situated along those two lines.
  2. When an object is moving towards you it seems to grow in size and when it moves away from you at seems to shrink. This phenomenon helps the brain to determine an object’s size, distance from you, and speed of movement.
  3. When we are moving, as in driving to the store, fixed objects also appear to move. For example, as we drive east, distant trees appear to move slowly west. But trees lining the road appear to move west very quickly. The speed of apparent tree movement helps the brain determine how far away they are.

Binocular Cues

These cues are only possible from the use of two eyes.

  1. The slight difference between the two images from two eyes is called stereopsis. Stereopsis is greater for a nearby object than for a distant object – the two images received by the brain are more different for a nearby object than for a distant object. This helps the brain to determine how far away an object is.
  2. The eye muscles must stretch more to focus on close-up things. The two eyes must converge more, and this causes strain when an object is too close.

Eye dominance can be strong or weak. Strong dominance can be caused by amblyopia or strabismus in early life. A child with either of these conditions grows up using one eye much more than the other. This teaches the brain to accept more data from the dominant eye and to ignore some data from the non-dominant eye.

To learn more about your own eyes, please see How to Find Your Blind Spot.

Please visit our ophthalmologist directory today if you would like to speak with a qualified eye doctor near you.

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